Speaking Hermeneutically
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John Arthos discovers and promotes an organic reciprocity between rhetoric as a humanist practice and hermeneutics as a theoretical comportment. Although these two traditions have a long and rewarding collaboration, it is only now that we begin to realize their potential for radically remaking the way we think and speak as social animals. Arthos marries the performative competencies of rhetorical practice with the circularity of hermeneutic understanding in a way that redefines the syntax of a humanist education in the twenty-first century. As a counter to the linear, technical rationalism that permeates common culture and educational praxis, Speaking Hermeneutically shows how a hermeneutically inflected rhetoric can lead to refashioning habits of thought and speech, the constitution of personal identity, the conventions of social engagement, and the deliberative practices that form the basis of public institutions. Arthos adapts the hermeneutics of Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Paul Ricoeur to a series of classic rhetorical texts and landmark political moments, modeling the revitalized interchange of traditions in a way that will be accessible to scholars and students in both fields of inquiry.



Publié par
Date de parution 10 septembre 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781611172065
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,2650€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Speaking Hermeneutically
Studies in Rhetoric/Communication Thomas W. Benson, Series Editor
Speaking Hermeneutically
Understanding in the Conduct of a Life
John Arthos

The University of South Carolina Press
© 2011 University of South Carolina
Cloth edition published by the University of South Carolina Press, 2011 Ebook edition published in Columbia, South Carolina, by the University of South Carolina Press, 2012
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The Library of Congress has cataloged the cloth edition as follows:
Arthos, John, 1956– Speaking hermeneutically : understanding in the conduct of a life / John Arthos. p. cm. (Studies in rhetoric/communication) Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index. ISBN 978-1-57003-968-3 (cloth : alk. paper) 1. Rhetoric History. 2. Rhetoric Theory, etc. 3. Hermeneutics. I. Title. PN183.A78 2011 808'.001 dc22
Chapter 3 , “Transitive Agency: Between Person and Text,” is a redacted version of “The Humanity of the Word: Transitive Agency in Humanism and Hermeneutics,” International Philosophical Quarterly 46, no. 4 (2006): 477–91. Chapter 6 , “Instigating the Event of Understanding: John Jay Chapman in Public and Private,” is a redacted version of “Chapman’s Coatesville Address: A Hermeneutic Reading,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 88, no. 2 (2002): 193–208.
ISBN 978-1-61117-206-5 (ebook)
In memory of Michael Leff
Here something turns in on itself. Here something coils in on itself but does not close itself, for it uncoils itself at the same time. Here is a coil, a living coil, like a snake. Here something catches itself at its own end. Here is a commencement that is already completion. | Martin Heidegger, Principle of Reason
Series Editor’s Preface
Preface: Rhetoric and Hermeneutics
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Involutions
Part 1 Dissolving Binaries
1 “We can not consecrate”: Between Word and Flesh
2 The Space of Deliberation and the Time of Decision: Discursive Reciprocities of Self and World
3 Transitive Agency: Between Person and Text
Part 2 The Circle of Reflection
4 The History and Structure of the Circle
5 Thinking Out Loud: The Involutions of Newman’s Mind
6 Instigating the Event of Understanding: John Jay Chapman in Public and Private
7 In the Garden of the Tuileries: The Circularity of Narrative Understanding
8 The Hermeneutic Text: “An infinite web of motivations”
Part 3 The Matrix of Broken Parts
9 Three Distances
10 A House Divided: Contingent Judgment and Rhetorical Competence
11 John Brown’s Body: Pathologies of the Social Imaginary
Afterword: Theory, Practice, and Comportment
Series Editor’s Preface
In Speaking Hermeneutically, John Arthos proposes to explore the relation of rhetoric and hermeneutics. In so doing, he emphasizes that the version of rhetoric that he examines here is that of the humanist tradition in the West. The version of hermeneutics he proposes, derived from Martin Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer, is a theoretically precise set of principles stressing finitude, prudence, process, and dialogue, keeping always in mind the “circular finitude” of discourse. Arthos rejects the view that rhetoric is confined to speaking, or production, and that hermeneutics is confined to listening, or reception. Instead, he claims, “hermeneutics is a theoretical orientation to a rhetorical practice.”
According to Arthos the human experience, the hermeneutic experience, is always circular, balanced between the particular and the general, both of which always inform each other in our existence. Our experience is self-conscious and self-reflexive, rendering us at once agent and witness, at large in time that stretches ahead and behind. In some sense conscious of or driven by our sense of fragmentation, we use language to patch together a sense of self and world.
Arthos works out the implications of what it is to understand the conduct of life hermeneutically in detailed theoretical reflections and in a series of case studies Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg; Anthony Trollope’s Dr. Wortle’s School; John Henry Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua; John Jay Chapman at Coatesville, Pennsylvania; Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence; the Emancipation Proclamation; Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and “House Divided” speech; and John Brown’s raid on the national armory at Harpers Ferry. The mix is grounded, reflective, engaging, and illuminating.
Preface | Rhetoric and Hermeneutics
In the spiral form, the circle, uncoiled, unwound, has ceased to be vicious; it has been set free. I thought this up when I was a schoolboy, and I also discovered that Hegel’s triadic series … expressed merely the essential spirality of all things in their relation to time. | Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory
Years ago I was asked by a prominent rhetorical scholar what hermeneutics has to offer rhetoric that rhetoric does not already have. The question contains a legitimate disciplinary point. Rhetoric as a pedagogy in its venerable two-thousand-year history has done quite well enough as a rich heuristic for discursive invention and civic practice all on its own, thank you very much, and does not need the help of some fashionable continental import. Hermeneutics rode along with the French and German theory invasion of the last decades, bringing some weighty intellectual credentials, promising theoretical heft for rhetoric’s thin academic profile. 1 Nevertheless I was caught a bit off guard by the question, stammered something incoherent, and subsequently, in private, steadily improved my answer. Seriously, though, over time I have begun to realize that the suspicion embedded in the question is unwarranted. First of all hermeneutics as a traditional discipline grew out of rhetoric and continues to feed from it as an inexhaustible source of learning, as child to parent. Indeed after some decades of exposure, after more fashionable trends have begun to fade, it now begins to show some of the same remarkable resilience as rhetoric itself: “Precisely at the time when it might seem that hermeneutics, with theory generally, should be fading slowly over the horizon … hermeneutics seems to have survived … in part because it is so protean and polymorphous that if repressed in one form it returns in another.” 2 Second, the benefit works in both directions. Just as the work quietly underway in rhetorical studies seeds a fuller appreciation of the hermeneutic situation, so the radical achievements of a discursive ontology only promote the place of rhetoric in the ongoing broad reconfiguration of knowledge. We ought not to look at hermeneutics as a competitor but as an ally in challenging reigning antirhetorical paradigms that still hold mainstream culture in their grip. 3
But the relation has suffered from a lack of clarity over the decades since the introduction of the idea of hermeneutics into American scholarship. If the concept has continued to have an allure for a variety of disciplines, people appear not quite to know what to do with it. 4 Critical and cultural theorists have distanced themselves from it as a veiled traditionalism, social scientists continue to want to reduce it to a method, 5 and more traditional rhetoricians hold the suspicion I began my account with. 6 In rhetoric studies (its natural home), although it has continued to demonstrate a magnetic pull, it acts still mainly as a somewhat amorphous heuristic. 7 Hans-Georg Gadamer, who developed the broad potential of hermeneutics out of some preliminary thought experiments of Martin Heidegger, came to acknowledge more and more the foundational role of a humanist rhetorical paideia for hermeneutics, but he never developed this connection in the way he had hoped. 8 In proposing my own approach to this relationship, I am going to discard the usual orientation of rhetoric and hermeneutics as horizontally aligned disciplines (as speaking to listening, or writing to interpretation) and instead propose a vertical alignment of perspective and practice hermeneutics as a theoretical orientation or depth dimension and rhetoric as the education in and performance of discursive identity. 9 This reorientation will allow me to show that the two are intertwined in such a way that it would be impractical to separate them into discreet disciplinary functions.
Prior to articulating this relationship, I want to stipulate a limitation of definition that I hope will diffuse some distrust. Instead of Dilip Gaonkar’s framing of a universalizing hermeneutic rhetoric (the “incredibly engulfing discipline”), the hermeneutic connection to rhetoric I want to develop operates under a delimited set of cultural presuppositions, theoretical parameters, and disciplinary commitments. 10 Its claims to universality are bounded by this set of interests and perspectives. The perspective I am describing places this comprehensiveness in a very specific conceptual nexus the theory of the hermeneutic circle developed in the Protestant appropriation of exegetical training in the Latin West. Underlying this approach to education are a fundamental commitment to the idea of human community ( oekumene ), a theoretical grounding in the limits of human finitude, and a polemical rejection of the rationalist binaries of Enlightenment thought. The rhetoric to which this hermeneutics belongs is the humanist pedagogy that developed in the West as a cultivation of social competencies through the study of discourse.
Thus I do not claim to teach rhetoric from a hermeneutic perspective as a universal prescription. 11 It is a body of thought that seeks to locate and revi

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