Rhetoric is widely regarded by both its detractors and advocates as a kind of antithesis to reason. In this book Thomas B. Farrell restores rhetoric as an art of practical reason and enlightened civic participation, grounding it in its classical tradition—particularly in the rhetoric of Aristotle. And, because prevailing modernist world views bear principal responsibility for the disparagement of rhetorical tradition, Farrell also offers a critique of the dominant currents of modern humanist thought.
Farrell argues that rhetoric is not antithetical to reason but is a manner of posing and answering questions that is distinct from the approaches of analytic and dialectical reason. He develops this position in a number of ways: through a series of bold reinterpretations of Aristotle's Rhetoric; through a detailed appraisal of traditional rhetorical concepts as seen in modern texts from the Army-McCarthy hearings to Edward Kennedy's memorial for his brother, Mario Cuomo's address on abortion, Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique, and Vaclav Havel's inaugural address; and through a fresh appraisal of theories on the character of language and discourse found in contemporary philosophy, literary criticism, anthropology, deconstructionism, Marxism, and especially in Habermas's critical theory of communicative action.
Winner of the 1994 Winans-Wilchelns Award
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