The Ubiquity of Rhetoric and Hermeneutic Philosophy

The European Legacy 14 (4):427-441 (2009)
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Abstract

This essay examines how hermeneutic philosophy, particularly Gadamer's, recovers rhetoric, less as the art of speaking well than as a statement of a truth of the sensus communis, that which communicates veracious content through argumentation. This is the sense in which Gadamer acknowledges the ubiquity of rhetoric and hermeneutics as components of linguisticity (Sprachlichkeit). Conceived in the context of non-methodical wisdom and phronesis, Gadamer's rehabilitated rhetoric is concerned with pragmatics and ethics. Rhetoric is no longer viewed as a technique of verbal manipulation and becomes relevant for dialogic communication. Gadamer thus joins the Habermasian criticism of formalized reason that is detached from values. Both of them reject instrumental reason, because it has colonized communicational reason. However, since Gadamer's view of rhetoric has also been criticized by Habermas and Ricoeur their objections cannot be overlooked in a discussion of his hermeneutics. The essay concludes with a brief consideration of the implications of the debate on rhetoric, hermeneutics, and communication for the twenty-first century

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Carmen Lopez
National Distance Education University

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