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Approaches to the Contemporary Use of Classical Text

Approaches to the Contemporary Use of Classical Text

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Approaches to the Contemporary Use of Classical Text

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  1. Approaches to the Contemporary Use of Classical Text • Historical Reconstruction • “philological fidelity to extant textual evidence and avoidance of anachronism” (108) • Contemporary Appropriation • “the rendering of ancient theories through some sort of contemporary theoretical lens” (108)

  2. Taking an Ironic Stance • An “ironist” is: • “the sort of person who faces up to the contingency of his or her own beliefs and desires – someone sufficiently historicist and nominalist to have abandoned the idea that those central beliefs and desires refer back to something beyond the reach of time and chance” – Richard Rorty

  3. What is Rhetoric?

  4. Gorgias’ Rhetoric • “Speech is a powerful lord, which by means of the finest and most invisible body effects the divinest works: it can stop fear and banish grief and create joy and nurture pity” – Encomium of Helen • Bia – violent force • Relation of truth (aletheia) and opinion (doxa)

  5. Aristotle’s Rhetoric • Rhetoric as dunamis • Dunamis designates “potentiality” with respect to objects and animals, and “ability” with respect to humans • “Let rhetoric be an ability (dunamis), in each case, to see the available means of persuasion.” • In Nicomachean Ethics: “An art never produces an activity, but the capacity for an activity”

  6. Rhetoric in the Polis • “The Rhetoric enables a legislator to understand how rhetoric works in the polis without imposing the necessity to employ it, since the act of persuasion—or, rather, its external end—is not as noble as a detached (internal) understanding of how persuasion works” • Aristotle believed that judges act “at the moment”, rather than after careful consideration, like legislators • Rhetoric comes into play when the situation exceeds the parameters circumscribed by law.

  7. Isocrates’ Rhetoric • Rhetoric as hēgemōn (leader) • logos as a civilized force, at once a principle of social unification and a mechanism through which this unification is achieved • The power of discourse is the ability to sanction the social order and to challenge it through individual rhetorical acts

  8. Rhetoric in the Polis • TakisPoulakos: For Isocrates “citizenship is an identity that must be reclaimed, and the problem with citizenship appears to be how to disclose that identity publicly—how a king can prove that his royal status did not violate but actually derived from his status as a citizen, or how an orator can demonstrate that his words did not originate in his interest for self-advantage, but in his position as the citizen who speaks as a member of the polis” • Isocrates fuses the ideas of individual merit with the performative ideal of accountability to the polis • Nicocles: Nicocles must obey the hegemony of speech the same as any orator.

  9. Discussion • Rhetoric as bia (violent force) • Rhetoric as dunamis (ability) • Rhetoric as hēgemōn (leader)

  10. Role of Rhetoric

  11. Aristotle • Problems with democracy • Importance of leisure in order for active political participation • Confusion of roles for the subjects of a democracy • Role of rhetoric is to act as a buffer between the rhetor and the demos

  12. Isocrates • Rhetoric as a means of unification • Through persuasion “we have come together, built cities, made laws, and invented arts” –Antidosis 254 and Nicocles6 • Rhetoric and kairos

  13. Discussion • What is the role of rhetoric in today’s society? • Whose vision of the role of democracy do you see as being most influential and present today?

  14. Consumerism killed classical rhetoric

  15. Discussion • How can you see the change in the role of rhetoric in society as influencing pedagogy?

  16. Pedagogy • “In the sphere of language education, the shift has been away from civic rhetoric toward the business-friendly “plain style” celebrated by Carnegie and codified by Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.” • “The plain style also creates the illusion that language can be like glass, a medium without the infusion of self. It pretends the facts can speak for themselves in ways that the old rhetoric never did. The very style has helped perpetuate the belief that there are technical, apolitical solutions to political problems. It is perhaps the most deceptive style of them all” -Kenneth Cmiel

  17. Back to an ironic stance… • Haskins believes that with a ironic stance we could benefit from an Isocratean pedagogy since it “calls for sympathy toward the common cultural denominator as a starting point of critical inquiry the goal of which is learning to question the limits of cultural knowledge (135).