Aristotle Beyond the Academy

Learn Charisma?

'Charisma is like magic. It gets people to like you, trust you and want to be led by you.' In Summer 2022, Professor of Rhetoric, Michael Burke (Utrecht University), offered a (paid-for) Modern Charisma course at the University of Cambridge for up to 10 people who wanted to increase their ability to speak persuasively in public and 'to radiate the presence, power and warmth needed to be considered a captivating and charismatic person'. The course promotional material noted that charismatic individuals 'draw consciously and strategically on the Aristotelian rhetorical notion of ethos/character to hone and polish their oral performance and delivery.' Yet Aristotle was clear that charisma could not be learned.
The course claims that it was based on behaviour science research: 'In her book The Charisma Myth (2012), Olivia Fox Cabane, blends (neuro)science, research, applications and techniques to point the way to how individuals might master the art of personal magnetism. This workshop takes those insights and blends them with the main precepts and principles of classical rhetoric to form a fundamentally interdisciplinary programme demonstrating that charisma is indeed "for all" and, that with effort, dedication and practice, anyone can become a captivating public speaker and a leader of change.'

Durham UniversityDurham University Centre for Classical ReceptionLeverhulme Trust