Fall 2021

Good Speech: Philosophy and Rhetoric in Theory & Practice

Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-232


Susan G. Daniels (Section 01)
Jyl Gentzler (Section 01)


In Plato’s Gorgias, Socrates argues with three sophists who practice and teach the art of rhetoric.  To Socrates’ mind, rhetoric is a dangerous tool that is indifferent to the truth of what is said.  Philosophy, in contrast, aims at genuine knowledge. In this class, we will examine and participate in the ancient battle between philosophy and rhetoric.  What makes for a good speech?  Are the logical tools of philosophy necessarily at odds with the rhetorical tools that effective speakers use to move their audience to conviction and action?  What constitutes a good argument?  How do effective speakers move their audience through the use of their voice, body, and character?  We will consult Aristotle’s Rhetoric in order to gain some theoretical insight into the constituents of effective speech.  We will also gain some first-hand insight into the nature of good speaking by trying out, and assessing, various techniques and strategies that have been used in famous speeches throughout history.  Throughout the semester, students will write and perform three speeches, and provide their classmates with effective and constructive feedback.

Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Gentzler and Associate in Public Speaking Daniels 

If Overenrolled: Priority by class seniority


Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing


2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021