Palgrave Macmillan Uk (2017)

This book explores the significance of rhetoric from the perspective of its complex relationship with philosophy. It demonstrates how this relationship gives expression to a basic tension at the core of politics: that between the contingency of its happening and the transcendence toward which it strives. The first part of the study proposes a reassessment of the ancient quarrel between philosophy and rhetoric, as it was discussed by Plato, Aristotle, and above all Cicero and Quintilian, who ambitiously attempted to bring them together creating an ideal that is at the roots of the humanist tradition. It then moves to twentieth-century political theory and shows how the questions that emerge from that quarrel still strongly resonate in the works of key thinkers such as H. Arendt, L. Strauss, and R. Rorty. The volume thus offers an original contribution that locates itself at the intersection of politics, rhetoric, and philosophy.
Keywords rhetoric  political theory  Cicero  humanism  Arendt  Rorty  Strauss
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Reprint years 2018
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ISBN(s) 978-1-349-95292-2   978-1-349-95293-9   1349957887   1349952923   9781349952922
DOI 10.1057/978-1-349-95293-9
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Chapters BETA

After briefly summarizing the argument of the book, the Afterword offers some final considerations on the political significance of the ancient quarrel between rhetoric and philosophy and of Cicero’s ideal of their combination. In this respect, it reaffirms the idea that the lessons that political t... see more

Politics as Transcendence and Contingency: Hannah Arendt

This chapter presents Arendt as one of the contemporary theorists more akin to the Roman-Humanistic tradition of rhetoric. First, it argues that at the roots of Arendt’s critical posture towards western philosophy there are some basic motives that approximate her to the tradition of ancient rhetoric... see more

Politics as Contingency: Richard Rorty

This chapter reads Rorty through the lens of the rhetorical-humanistic tradition of Cicero, Quintilian, and Vico, focusing on the interrelation between language, politics, and humanism. In particular, it compares them on the theme of the relation between self-cultivation and political commitment. If... see more

Politics as Transcendence: Leo Strauss

This chapter opens the second part of the book, which discusses three major contemporary theorists from the perspective of questions that emerged in the first part, above all Cicero’s union of rhetoric and philosophy. Strauss is the first thinker considered. In his political philosophy, transcendenc... see more

The Union of Philosophy and Rhetoric: Cicero and Quintilian

This chapter explores Cicero’s ideal of the union between philosophy and rhetoric, incarnated by the figure of the perfect orator, and the formative process associated with it: the rhetorical paideia of which Quintilian’s Institutio oratoria offers the most accomplished account. This ideal represent... see more

Between Philosophy and Rhetoric: Plato and Aristotle

This chapter discusses Plato and Aristotle’s conceptions of rhetoric in the background of the quarrel between philosophy and rhetoric. The fundamental, or even ‘foundational’, significance of this quarrel lies in the fact that in there a set of dichotomies related to the political tension between tr... see more


The Introduction explains that the main contribution of this book consists in showing that the meaning of rhetoric for political theory goes beyond what post-modern theorists, on one hand, and neo-Aristotelian theorists of public deliberation, on the other, are currently defending. According to this... see more

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