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Rhetoric and Irony: Western Literacy and Western Lies

By C. Jan Swearingen

This pathbreaking research integrates the histories of rhetoric, literacy, and literary aesthetics as much as the time of Augustine, concentrating on Western ideas of rhetoric as dissembling and of language as misleading that Swearingen argues have got interestingly trendy emphasis in Western aesthetics and language idea. Swearingen reverses the normal specialise in rhetoric as an oral agonistic style and examines it as an alternative as a paradigm for literate discourse. She proposes that rhetoric and literacy have within the West disseminated the interrelated notions that via studying rhetoric members can discover ways to manage language and others; that language is an unreliable, manipulable, and contingent car of notion, which means, and verbal exchange; and that literature is a physique of lovely lies and beguiling fictions. In a daring concluding bankruptcy Swearingen aligns her thesis relating early Western literacy and rhetoric with modern serious and rhetorical thought; with feminist stories in language, psychology, and tradition; and with experiences of literacy in multi- and cross-cultural settings.

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Parmenides forbade the best way of "the critiques of mortals," the place "by customized they identify types" — opposites — "one of which ought to not be. "72 If Parmenides' proscription is utilized to early rhetorical perform, we will be able to realize in it a caution opposed to arbitrarily selected, compelled dichotomies, the dissoi logoi that supplied education in eristic moots and prompted the advance of formal dialectic. Is Helen blameless or in charge? Is my patron a thief, or an extended wronged and dependable husbandman? the customer could be neither; yet within the then new rhetorical agon, jury, pass judgement on, claimant, and attorney should have firstly been at a loss as to the way to body the query. The Protagoran eikos—resembling fact, likely—came to be well-known, and scorned, as both a "fiction" —an approximation used to distort questions and manage instances. How may the strains be drawn between fact, probabilistic speculation, conjecture, and outright yet persuasive deception? Like its rhetorical descendants — the subjects and commonplaces outlined by means of Aristotle—the eikos used to be, it kind of feels, either coming into universal utilization and in Parmenidean phrases an example of not-being. Even the 1st of Aristotle's different types can be reviewed as an ontological eikos of types: does it or does it now not exist? but as soon as ontology is tied to articulation and demonstration, it enters the realm of human keep an eye on and initiative. don't convey those word-forged opposites into being, Parmenides warns. in case you do, you'll be misplaced ceaselessly on that street of the wayward, splay-brained lots, for whom to be and never to be are one and a similar. Gorgias could be understood as defining another method out of this conundrum in the course of the "two forms of wizardry and magic" he defines within the "Encomium on Helen. " Is it impossible that looking, cultivating, or propounding undying essences is what he phrases the "deception within the mind"? seventy three if this is the case, the "error within the soul" is like unto it. If one is familiar with of, yet refuses to take part in, the realm of mortals and their opinion —if one classifies opinion, and certainly all human speech, as by way of its very nature corrupt, misleading, fragmenting—then one has little vital for motion, selection, effecting swap. isn't really swap one of many forbidden docta of Parmenides, for whom that that's, and is actual and precise, doesn't swap? "Ignore the single means [opinion] as unthinkable and inexpressible (for it truly is no actual method) and take the opposite because the manner of Being and truth. emblems and common sense one of the Preplatonics fifty one How may possibly Being perish? How may possibly it come into being? If it got here into being, it isn't. "74 possibly simply because this perspective can produce a contemplative passivity, Gorgias denounces it as an "error within the soul. "75 Parmenides appears to be like engaged within the this-not-that dividing video game himself, whilst he claims trademarks for himself and leaves all oppositions, comparisons, and levels —the rhetorical modes, in brief —to the sleepwalkers who wander two-headed, regularly backward turning. This shadow international of mere opinion and part fact, from Parmenides' standpoint, is a part of the unsuitable global of an anthrocentristic cosmology.

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