Taxis is key

Plato discusses the use of form in Phaedrus pointing out each part of the form must play a specific function. He uses the analogy of the soul and the charioteer to show how each plays a specific function and role.[1] Isocrates' criticism of the sophists was there was no teaching of the art, but rather teaching students to mimic without truly understanding how to arrange a speech or the function or rhetoric.[2] Aristotle offers a systematic way of understanding and creating rhetoric discussing the importance of arrangement or taxis in Book 3 of On Rhetoric.[3] Aristotle offered 5 major canons of rhetoric, which are still studied today in which taxis plays a major role in creating effective rhetoric. Cicero continues to emphasize the importance of the five canons and the role arrangement plays in rhetoric for the Romans. When he discusses the form of epideictic speaking, Cicero points out "figures of diction that reveal much labor, are more suitable for a speech of entertainment."[4] Arrangement and taxis becomes important in rhetoric for the arrangement ends up setting up the tone or purpose of the speech, which is important to consider depending on the speaking or rhetorical situation. Although, Only three of the canons were taught during Medieval times and arrangement was dropped, arrangement remains to be a heavy influence in both oral and written communication through the modern era.[5] In contemporary political rhetoric, there are some such as the inauguration in which there are set arrangements that the politician must follow whereas others are more epideictic in nature and arrangements although not as binding, still play an important role. After the attacks of 9/11 President Bush gave numerous speeches in attempt to comfort and rally the citizens; however, to many his speeches seemed undisciplined. It was only after Bush, his advisors, and speechwriters took the time to seriously think and plan out the arrangement and style of the speech he would present to Congress. The considered the arrangement carefully struggling to find the right place and time to put in the call to action, establishing a background and introduction, and carefully considering how the speech would end. The speech was so successful that he was interrupted by congress applause 31 times.[6] Bush's consideration of arrangement along with its relationship with the other canons resulting in the overwhelming acceptance and success of his address shows the importance arrangement plays in contemporary times.

Word Count = 494

[1] Plato, Phaedrus, trans. W.C. Helmbold and W.G. Rabinowitz (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1956), 28 (246).

[2] Isocrates, Against the Sophists, trans. David C. Mirhady and Yun Lee Too (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000), 63.

[3] Aristotle, On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse, trans. George A. Kennedy (New York: Oxford University Press), 230 (1414b).

[4] J. Richard Case, "The Classical Conception of Epidecitic," The Quarterly Journal of Speech (1961): 293-300.

[5] Herbert W. Hildebrandt, "Some Influences of Greek and Roman Rhetoric on Early Letter Writing," The Journal of Business Communication 25, no. 3 (1988): 7-27.

[6] D.T. Max, "The Making of the Speech: The 2,988 Words that Changed a Presidency," The New York Times Magazine, October 2007, 32-37.

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