The Philosophy of Rhetoric (Landmarks in Rhetoric and Public Address)
The Philosophy of Rhetoric (Landmarks in Rhetoric and Public Address)
Southern Illinois University Press

The Philosophy of Rhetoric (Landmarks in Rhetoric and Public Address)

  • Publish Date: 1988-03-01
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: George Campbell

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Here, after a quarter century of additional study and reflection, Bitzer presents a new critical edition of George Campbells classic.

Bitzer provides a more complete review and assessment of Campbells work, giving particular emphasis to Campbells theological views, which he demonstrates played an important part in Campbells overall view of reasoning, feeling, and moral and religious truth.

The Rhetoric is widely regarded as the most important statement of a theory of rhetoric produced in the 18th century. Its importance lies, in part, in the fact that the theory is informed by the leading assumptions and themes of the Scottish Enlightenmentthe prevailing empiricism, the theory of the association of ideas, the effort to explain natural phenomena by reference to principles and processes of human nature. Campbells work engages such themes in an attempt to formulate a universal theory of human communication.

Campbell attempts to develop his theory by discovering deep principles in human nature that account for all instances and kinds of human communication. He seeks to derive all communication principles and processes empirically. In addition, all statements in discourse that have to do with matters of fact and human affairs are likewise to be empirically derived. Thus, his theory of rhetoric is vastly wider than, and different from, such classical theories as those proposed by Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian, whose theories focused on discourse related to civic affairs.

Bitzer shows that, by attempting to elaborate a general theory of rhetoric through empirical procedures, Campbells project reveals the limitations of his method. He cannot ground all statements empirically and it is at this point that his theological position comes into play. Inspection of his religious views shows that Gods design of human nature, and Gods revelations to humankind, make moral and spiritual truths known and quite secure to human beings, although not empirically.

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