CHAÃM PERELMANâ€™S â€œNEW RHETORICâ€ Â The Belgium theorist ChaÃ¯m Perelman was also interested in developing a Â way to critique arguments as they appeared in actual discussion. Perelman Â believed that the way to more accurately discuss argumentation was to focus on Â its audience. For Perelman (1982), argumentation necessarily involved an audience, which made it different from formal logic, â€œin which no attention is paid to Â the meaning of the symbolsâ€ (p. 13). Argumentation, though, requires a relationship between the speaker and the audience. Ray (1978) explained, â€œSince it is Â the audience that the speaker seeks to influence by argument, all argumentation Â is developed in relation to an audienceâ€ (p. 362). In Perelmanâ€™s (1982) words, â€œall Â argumentation aims at gaining the adherence of minds, and, by this very fact, Â assumes the existence of an intellectual contactâ€ (p. 14). The audience, he Â explained, may not be the person or people physically present to hear the Â speaker. It is even more difficult to locate the exact audience for written rhetoric, since writing spreads to many audience members unknown to the writer. Â Perelman (1982) defined the audience as â€œthe ensemble of those whom the Â speaker wishes to influence by his argumentationâ€ (p. 19). Â Perelman (1982) noted that the â€œaudienceâ€ is always a â€œmore or less systematized constructionâ€ (p. 19). That is, the audience is an idea the speaker considers as he or she prepares arguments and techniques of argumentation. Too Â often, wrote Perelman (1982), rhetoric had become an â€œacademic exerciseâ€ in Â which it addressed â€œconventional audiencesâ€ (p. 20). He was concerned that Â rhetoric was not taught in a way to address a meaningful audience, but one that Â was instead invented for the rhetorical exercise at hand. Such a view limited Â rhetoric and made it an artificial art, according to Perelman. Â In argumentation, he explained, â€œcare must be taken to form a concept of Â the anticipated audience as close as possible to reality. An inadequate picture of Â the audience, resulting either from ignorance or an unforeseen set of circumstances, can have very unfortunate resultsâ€ (Perelman, 1982, p. 20). Without a Â clear understanding of the audience, a speaker who thinks he or she has constructed effective arguments, may find the opposite when confronted by a real Â audience. Perelman (1982) suggested, â€œAccordingly, knowledge of those one Â wishes to win over is a condition preliminary to all effectual argumentationâ€ (p. Â 20). In fact, Perelman advised arguers that â€œthe important thing is not knowing Â what the speaker regards as true or important, but knowing the views of those Â he is addressingâ€ (pp. 23â€“24). While Plato lamented the rhetorâ€™s flattery of the Â audience, Perelman observed that no orator can â€œafford to neglect this effort of Â adaptation to the audienceâ€ (p. 24). Â Perelman identified a distinction between persuading and convincing to Â help rhetors consider the audience they are addressing. Persuasion, he wrote, is Â a form of argumentation that claims validity only for a particular audience, while convincing is a type of argumentation that holds true for an audience of â€œevery Â rational beingâ€ (Perelman, 1982, p. 28). The former type of argumentation is aimed at a particular audience, the latter at the universal audience. The particular audience is composed of those in attendance at a rhetorâ€™s speech; the universal audience is composed of â€œall normal, adult personsâ€ (p. 30). Â Perelman (1982) explained that â€œArgumentation aimed exclusively at a particular audience has the drawback that the speaker, by the very fact of adapting Â to the views of his listeners, might rely on arguments that are foreign or even Â directly opposed to what is acceptable to persons other than those he is presently addressingâ€ (p. 31). That is, when you argue an appeal for more money for Â your student organization in front of the student government, you might use Â different appeals than if you presented to your organizationâ€™s alumni with similar arguments. Perelman was concerned that you would use faulty arguments if Â you only considered the immediate audience. Â The importance of the universal audience, on the other hand, is to provide a Â â€œnorm for objective argumentationâ€ (Perelman, 1982, p. 31). â€œArgumentation Â addressed to a universal audience must convince the reader that the reasons Â adduced are of a compelling character, that they are self-evident, and possess an Â absolute and timeless validity, independent of local or historical contingenciesâ€ Â (Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca, 1969, p. 32). The strongest arguments, he Â thought, were those that had a timeless appeal to a universal audience.
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