Our present work is a warm pleading for rhetoric. This art that flourished in the Greek and Roman antiquity had its glory and decline. Not even glory nor decline had discouraged it: the essence of rhetoric procedure, sometimes hidden, sometimes direct and unexpected, could be found in all historical ages. This is a characteristic element of the thinking human being: the continuing preoccupation and permanent attention given to its relation to alterity.


Beyond conjunctural assumptions or momentary options discursiveness has always been the essence of rhetoric. And maybe this is the most profound and subtle form of the human being's relation to alterity.


Our century - which stands as it has been said for the "tyranny of the word" - seemed to be favorable - at least this is the situation for the 30's and the 40's - for the revival of the discursiveness theory. It seems that rhetoric has died many times, but every time it has risen from its ashes and every revival has been accompanied by astonishing amplitude of investigations: a keen interest in critical thought and a careful investigation of the classical acquisition for revealing the elements of continuity and discontinuity. The beauty and vitality of rhetoric procedure consist in this permanent returning to present, in its critical spirit that has always been together with revaluation.


Our attempt begins with an investigation of the rhetoric epistemological status. Thus, we are trying to determine the identity of rhetoric procedure with other domains of human cognition, to establish its jurisdiction domain by taking into account some classic or contemporary positions. Making a clear-cut distinction between “implicit rhetoric" and "explicit rhetoric", which are both present in Plato's dialogues, we focus on the latter, as it is revealed in his two dialogues: Phaidros and Gorgias. Some aspects will carry on the "mark" of Plato's thought: the art relation of spoken word to opinion science, general truth and morality. The point of reference between the Greek antiquity and the rhetoric of today is the work of Aristotle. We succeed in analyzing together three of his works Topics, Sophistical Refutations and Rhetoric and we can speak now for sure, about Aristotle's integrating conception on discursiveness and his vast research that has astonished us today.


Analyzing the status of rhetoric also implies the important periods of the Roman antiquity, first of all those represented by Cicero and Quintillianus, the former being a perfect practitioner of the oratorio art and the latter a school leader who contributed to a great extent to imposing discipline and forming statesmen. We could not deny the contribution of Saint Augustine; that is a new vision of semiotic inspiration on oratorical and argumentative discourse.


Above all these happy moments, rhetoric has silently suffered for many centuries because of multiple and diverse causes. Its coming back in actuality is due to the impulses of many aspects: the growth of semiotic analyses on discursiveness (Morris, Benveniste and others), the imposing of postmodern paradigm of research with an accent on logocentrism (Lyotard) and the great expansion of the rationality concept during the 19th century.


In the first part of our work we are concerned with some current trends in rhetoric (Georges Mounin, Tzvetan Todorov, Roland Barthes, Gérard Genette. I. Kibedi-Varga, Olivier Reboul, Alex Preminger, I. A Richards) and we try to reveal the meanings of these concepts and the methodological course of research. Rhetoric is seen as the discursiveness analytics in its largest meaning (i.e. writing and performative aspect). The assuming methodological paradigm research is that of the distinction between language-object and metalanguage that has been investigated by A. Tarski.


Taking into account this distinction, the second part of our work deals with language as rhetoric object. Since language - as object - is materialized in any other form of rhetoric discourse we are trying to suggest a semiotic model for interpreting rhetoric discourse, i. e. a tripartite analysis concerning Morris's distinctions in semiotic plan (syntax, semantics, pragmatics). We are trying to determine the internal logic of discursive acts in the plan of syntactic dimension of rhetoric discourse analysis, following the ideas of the latest research on discursive logic. As any other product of human thought, the discourse should be subjected to some elementary norms of rationality; the discussion about them is concentrated on the functions and the role of operators and discursive operations.


The semantic dimension of rhetoric discourse analysis focuses on the concept of discursive schematizing elaborated by the Semiology Research Centre from Neuchâtel that has been adapted here as rhetoric discourse. This concept is analyzed as an act and as a result, i.e. the impact of thematic reference on the listener. The image on rhetoric discourse is completed by pragmatic analysis that is supposed to delimit the performative instances conceived in discursive intervention, their mechanisms them of obtaining then and the functions of metaphoric language: the supported main idea is that not only completeness of such dimensions but also the effectiveness of such rhetoric discursive intervention are very important.


The third part deals with metalanguage. Taking into account the performative instances obtained in a discursive intervention (conviction and persuasion) we can determine two types of rhetoric: cognitive rhetoric (which studies those discursive forms that lead to convictions) and aesthetic rhetoric (which deals with those discursive forms that lead to persuasions). The understanding of those two basic concepts, conviction and persuasion, is influenced by Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. When the assumption principles of a statement are objective we deal with a conviction; when they are subjective we deal with a persuasion.


There are types of discursiveness that lead to the forming of convictions (scientific discourse, for instance) and there also exist types of discursiveness indicating persuasion (poetic discourse, for instance). Taking into consideration these two types of discourse (scientific discourse and poetic discourse) as a "case study", our investigation deals with the determination of discursive performance mechanisms which are specific to cognitive rhetoric and aesthetic rhetoric.


The fourth part of our work is an attempt to put in order the variety of current trends in rhetoric. The contemporary scene of the rhetoric development could hardly respond to an explicative unitary matrix because the starting points, the instruments of investigation and the results are sometimes quite different.


The order we try to undertake by analyzing the main trends in contemporary rhetoric - which is to be seen as a novelty in this domain - has got as the basic criterion the mechanisms of discursive performance (the discursive performance has always been the "mark" of a rhetoric discourse). According to the dominant tonality of the mechanism of discursive performance we can delimit the following rhetoric trends: argumentative rhetoric (Perelman, Grize), metaphysical rhetoric (Derrida, Ricoeur), textual rhetoric (Barthes, Genette, and Eco), and poetic rhetoric (the µ group).


As the end of such investigations that have not always pointed out the common places of the domain, there can be the trust in the power of the well-spoken word. Our work tries to give an answer to the everlasting need of the human being, which is to make its relation to alterity more efficient and competitive.