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(2001) The politics of postmodernity, Dordrecht, Springer.

The new philosophy of rhetoric

Gary Brent Madison

pp. 101-136

In the beginning, with the West's first humanists and liberal educators, the Sophists, the terms "rhetoric" and "philosophy" were names for the one and the same thing. The history of western thought after Plato is the history of the progressive estrangement between rhetoric and philosophy, such that by the time of late modernity these two terms had come to designate disciplines which in many ways were viewed as being antithetical to one another. In the twentieth century, "philosophy" (especially in the Anglo-Saxon world) had become the name for a sterile, logicist discipline whose purported object was truth (thought, reason) in a timeless, invariant, and context-free sense. Rhetoric in the meantime had degenerated into a moribund, if not actually defunct, academic discipline concerned not with matters of true thinking, but with mere technical questions of linguistic style (ornate forms of speech). A fundamental divorce had been fully and formally instituted between (truth) content and (stylistic) form.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-010-0750-4_5

Full citation:

Madison, G.B. (2001). The new philosophy of rhetoric, in The politics of postmodernity, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 101-136.

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