Toward a Nietzschean Theory of Rhetoric: The Valuative Interpretation of Discourse and the Reversal of Platonism

Dissertation, University of Minnesota (1992)
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Abstract

Friedrich Nietzsche's writings reflect a coherent and complex theory of rhetoric. This theory of rhetoric develops over time in Nietzsche's writings, and becomes the center of his concern in later works. ;Commentary on Nietzsche, however, has done little to explore his theory of rhetoric, except either to relegate his writings to commentary on classical Greek and Roman rhetorical theory, or to depict Nietzsche as a harbinger of a contemporary postmodern theory of metaphor. In each case, valuable contributions to the study of rhetoric have been lost. ;Contrary to readings done by others, I believe that Nietzsche's works can be read as a coherent, fully developed philosophy/theory of rhetoric. In response to works by rhetorical scholars, I argue that such theory must incorporate materials from the full spectrum of Nietzsche's works and reflect the changes that occur therein. In response to works by others, chiefly postmodernists, I argue that Nietzsche's conception of rhetoric went beyond tropes to incorporate the impact of language usage, force, and meaning. ;This dissertation argues for an analysis of the transformations that occur throughout Nietzsche's works, each of which marks a development in Nietzsche's work and each of which offers a contribution to the way in which we examine the relationship between language and community. Through this development, I argue that Nietzsche opens up a space for meaningful social critique through his development of rhetorical theory as the social construction of the world through language

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