Rhetoric is the art and skill of persuading an audience, via spoken or written language, of a point of view.
Rhetoric is distinct from logic in that logic follows precise formulations in order to justify the conclusions it reaches from its assumptions. Rhetoric may employ logic, but also usually depends on techniques designed to lead the audience to one's conclusions without necessarily following every logical step along the way. (but if your audience finds out you’ve omitted key facts, you’ll lose credibility. )
As such, rhetoric may use many techniques to achieve its ends:
- Logical arguments
- Logical fallacies (usually disguised)
- Appeals to emotion
- Appeals to patriotism
- Appeals to religiosity
- Ridicule of opposing positions
The finest rhetoric results in great speechmaking, or essay writing, and can change the way the world thinks.
The worst can plunge whole societies into nightmarish political consequences.