While a tutor at Warrington Academy, the polymath Joseph Priestley
(1733-1804) established himself as a leading grammarian and
educational theorist, producing the influential Rudiments of
English Grammar (1761) and A Course of Lectures on the Theory of
Language and Universal Grammar (1762), both of which are reissued
in this series. In 1762 he also delivered these lectures on
rhetorical theory, arguing that the purpose of rhetoric is moral
formation. Priestley was deeply influenced by associationism, a
theory of mind developed by John Locke and David Hartley. This
claims that all complex ideas develop from simple ones, which arise
purely from sensory impressions. The orator's role, then, is to
form the right associations between impressions and ideas in a
listener's mind. Informed by this theory, these thirty-five
lectures re-evaluate the classical rhetorical components of topic,
method and style. First published in 1777, the work is reissued
here in its 1781 Dublin printing.
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