Just Google It

In class yesterday, we discussed if Google was making us stupid. At first thought, I couldn’t fathom the idea that a tool that brings the knowledge of the world to our fingertips, could possibly hinder us. At a deeper glance however, I realize that this question is not so ridiculous.

College students of today have the power of knowledge with the press of a button any time, any place that they desire so. One would think that this would make us incredibly smart compared to students before modern technology, but that is hardly the case. To me, the issue is that college students today aren’t retaining information like students of the past. We ‘Google’ something, find the result that we want, jot it down, and forget it until we need to look it up again. There is no reason to reinforce information because it is not necessary to us. I don’t think that college students are lazy, but utilize the tools that give the bare minimum of the information we need. Many people today don’t go the extra mile unless absolutely necessary, and I don’t blame them one bit. We live in a society that craves results, no matter the means to do so. This leads to long sleepless nights, performing, and then forgetting the information that was needed for that test. Personally, i think if our society valued the process, rather than just the results, we would have a much ‘smarter’ generation.

 

The True Victims of Rhetoric

Over this past weekend, I had the privilege to visit the wonderful city of Amsterdam. During our trip, we made an effort to see cultural buildings and museums. The museum that I enjoyed most, maybe on this entire trip, was the Moco Museum. This building held original pieces of art from Salvador Dalí, and Banksy.

 

Banksy is a modern day street artist who tackles social issues in today’s society, such as war, economics, and politics. One of my favorite pieces that I saw was simply called “Bomb Hugger on a traffic sign.” The image shows a young innocent girl hugging a large bomb that would be dropped by a military airplane. Banksy uses this image to emphasize the true nature of war, rather than rhetoric from the media and politicians. The young girl represents purity, while the bomb is representing evil. Banksy, in the image is attempting to challenge the press and politicians who try to portray war in a positive light, suggesting that it is necessary to promote freedom, democracy, and peace against terror. It’s such a contradictory rhetoric obscures the darker notices that come with war, such as greed, power, money and domination.

 

An image like this invokes the issues that we’ve been discussing throughout our time together in Italy. The question of is rhetoric inherently deceptive pops up again. I find it amazing how these issues have started since the Sophists and are still prevalent in the 21st century. Banksy is attempting to tackle this issue, presenting the other side of the argument that is not always present. He shows that typically the true victims of war, the ones that are always kept in the shadows, are the innocent civilians. Banksy is able to use his notoriety to bring light to the deceptive tendencies of today’s media and politicians, and we need more people like him working now more than ever.

Rhetoric in the Wrong Hands

During last weekend on my trip to Munich, I encountered several historical sites and events. However, there was not one that was as powerful as visiting Dachau concentration camp. This was the very first concentration camp, opening in 1933, several years before US intervention in WWII. To be able to literally step where around 40,000 people lost their lives was a feeling unlike any other. When we were walking around, there was fresh snow on the ground, a gray sky, and an ominous breeze literally feeling like it was a movie scene. Unlike movies though, this was very real. After touring the entire camp, there was an empty feeling in the pit of your stomach wondering how something like this could ever possibly happen.

 

Later that day we walked around an area named Marienplatz. The area resembled New York’s Times Square but on a much smaller scale. History was all around us and it was mesmerizing to see. One of the most fascinating areas we came across however was a spot in the street where Adolf Hitler officially declared to take over Germany. We learned that prior to the events in the street, Hitler was holding a large gathering in a near by biergarten rallying up thousands of people to join him in taking of Germany. This reminded me of our time in class when we discussed if rhetoric had a natural deceptive tendency. Although I disagreed with the naturalness of it, there is no doubt that Hitler was able to use deceptive techniques to rally thousands to his cause. He, similar to politicians of today, was able to get a large group to join a common cause and actually do something about it. Unfortunately, his cause was to create one of the worst institutions in human history.

 

Ultimately, it is without a doubt that rhetoric is one of the strongest tools we possess in today’s world. When given in the hands of the wrong people, who knows what the outcome can become.

The relationship between truth, argument, rhetoric, and persuasion

In our first class, Dr. MmCc introduced the question of whether there is a relationship between truth and argument. This brings us to the deeper parallels of the relationship between rhetoric and persuasion. After much thought, I feel that there is an inherent correlation between all four elements. In order to formulate a well thought argument, there needs to be truth, powerful rhetoric, and ultimately, persuasion to appeal to your opposition.

 

After reading chapters 2 and 3 of the textbook, I was able to connect the information to what I have learned from previous classes. In particular, I studied and read Plato’s “Republic”, in which I learned of his battles with the Sophists of Athens. Plato recognizes that many of the Sophists, who are supposed to be enriching the masses, are in fact just telling them what they would like to hear in order to gain popularity. However, because these Sophists are seen as credible figures, whatever they say is deemed truthful. Plato feels that the Sophists are acting as if they are philosophers, but they do not understand the true knowledge that comes with being a philosopher. In order to be a true philosopher, Plato argues that it is imperative to understand the difference between essence and appearance. Once you access essence, you are able to fully understand knowledge, and be able to teach and inform the masses.

 

In regards to our class, Plato would be a good person to base our beliefs on to answer our question of whether there is a relationship between truth, argument, rhetoric, and persuasion. If you were to follow Plato’s school of thought, you would know that your argument would be invalid without the essence of knowledge with truth. I feel that people understand this in part, however, especially in today’s world with access to all sorts of information, it is easy to find skewed information. It is easily accessible to find websites now with information that present only one side of the story with complete disregard for the other. One obvious example would be with politics. Especially with it being an election year, I saw first hand how people would just find websites backing up claims without any real validation behind such sites and claims.