PERSPECTIVES ON RHETORIC
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Augustine; that is a new vision of semiotic
inspiration on oratorical and argumentative discourse.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.