Antagonistic and non-antagonistic rhetoric



VOCABULARY Diversity papers. Learning Log FINAL PROJECTS EXAM

CRN 11829 Sat. 8:00-10:50 am, Business 326
CRN 13966 T/Th 9:00-10:20 am, LARTS 304.
 INSTRUCTOR : Owen M. Williamson, MA  

Antagonistic and Non-antagonistic Argumentation

The rhetor's task is to correctly determine when each form of rhetoric is appropriate, and when it is not.


The goals of antagonistic argumentation are usually:

  • promoting, increasing, and taking advantage of disunity among opponents and their allies,
  • seeking verbal and material dominance, pushing opponents out of the way;
  • bringing about psychological, verbal and physical confusion and demobilization of opponent forces;
  • causing the disruption, neutralization and ultimate elimination and disbanding of opponent forces;
  • creating favorable conditions for ultimate total material victory of rhetor and allies.
  • Antagonism may start out as rhetorical but often ends up very material: In antagonistic argumentation, the rhetor tries to accuse, discredit, indict, convict, defeat, eliminate or sometimes even kill the opponent.

    Antagonistic rhetoric is like a firearm: Never point it at someone unless you intend to destroy her or him.

    Antagonism ultimately destroys.


The goals of non-antagonistic argumentation are usually:

  • seeking unity;
  • practicing respect and mutual support;
  • understanding, consciousness-raising and compassion;
  • seeking peace and reconciliation,
  • democracy;
  • free and open discussion; and
  • finding ways of working together toward the common goal.
  • Non-antagonistic differences are sometimes material, but are always most appropriately settled by discursive (rhetorical) means:

Cooperation builds.

O.W. 12/06

For educational purposes only.

Owen M. Williamson - Education Bldg 211E - phone: (915) 747 7625 - fax: (915) 747 5655
The University of Texas at El Paso - 500 W. University Ave. - El Paso, TX 79968
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