Elevating Excellence: 10 Defining Choices that Lead to Relevance


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Quintilian 35— AD began his career as a pleader in the courts of law; his reputation grew so great that Vespasian created a chair of rhetoric for him in Rome. The culmination of his life's work was the Institutio Oratoria Institutes of Oratory, or alternatively, The Orator's Education , a lengthy treatise on the training of the orator, in which he discusses the training of the "perfect" orator from birth to old age and, in the process, reviews the doctrines and opinions of many influential rhetoricians who preceded him. In the Institutes, Quintilian organizes rhetorical study through the stages of education that an aspiring orator would undergo, beginning with the selection of a nurse.

Aspects of elementary education training in reading and writing, grammar, and literary criticism are followed by preliminary rhetorical exercises in composition the progymnasmata that include maxims and fables, narratives and comparisons, and finally full legal or political speeches. The delivery of speeches within the context of education or for entertainment purposes became widespread and popular under the term "declamation".

Rhetorical training proper was categorized under five canons that would persist for centuries in academic circles:. This work was available only in fragments in medieval times, but the discovery of a complete copy at the Abbey of St.


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Gall in led to its emergence as one of the most influential works on rhetoric during the Renaissance. Quintilian's work describes not just the art of rhetoric, but the formation of the perfect orator as a politically active, virtuous, publicly minded citizen. His emphasis was on the ethical application of rhetorical training, in part a reaction against the growing tendency in Roman schools toward standardization of themes and techniques. At the same time that rhetoric was becoming divorced from political decision making, rhetoric rose as a culturally vibrant and important mode of entertainment and cultural criticism in a movement known as the "second sophistic", a development that gave rise to the charge made by Quintilian and others that teachers were emphasizing style over substance in rhetoric.

After the breakup of the western Roman Empire, the study of rhetoric continued to be central to the study of the verbal arts; but the study of the verbal arts went into decline for several centuries, followed eventually by a gradual rise in formal education, culminating in the rise of medieval universities. But rhetoric transmuted during this period into the arts of letter writing ars dictaminis and sermon writing ars praedicandi.

As part of the trivium , rhetoric was secondary to the study of logic, and its study was highly scholastic: students were given repetitive exercises in the creation of discourses on historical subjects suasoriae or on classic legal questions controversiae. Although he is not commonly regarded as a rhetorician, St. Augustine — was trained in rhetoric and was at one time a professor of Latin rhetoric in Milan. After his conversion to Christianity, he became interested in using these " pagan " arts for spreading his religion.

This new use of rhetoric is explored in the Fourth Book of his De Doctrina Christiana , which laid the foundation of what would become homiletics , the rhetoric of the sermon. Augustine begins the book by asking why "the power of eloquence, which is so efficacious in pleading either for the erroneous cause or the right", should not be used for righteous purposes IV. One early concern of the medieval Christian church was its attitude to classical rhetoric itself. Jerome d. Rhetoric would not regain its classical heights until the Renaissance, but new writings did advance rhetorical thought.

Boethius ? A number of medieval grammars and studies of poetry and rhetoric appeared. Late medieval rhetorical writings include those of St. Thomas Aquinas ? Pre-modern female rhetoricians, outside of Socrates' friend Aspasia , are rare; but medieval rhetoric produced by women either in religious orders, such as Julian of Norwich d. In his Cambridge University doctoral dissertation in English, Canadian Marshall McLuhan — surveys the verbal arts from approximately the time of Cicero down to the time of Thomas Nashe —?

As noted below, McLuhan became one of the most widely publicized thinkers in the 20th century, so it is important to note his scholarly roots in the study of the history of rhetoric and dialectic. Another interesting record of medieval rhetorical thought can be seen in the many animal debate poems popular in England and the continent during the Middle Ages, such as The Owl and the Nightingale 13th century and Geoffrey Chaucer 's Parliament of Fowls ? Walter J. Ong's article "Humanism" in the New Catholic Encyclopedia surveys Renaissance humanism , which defined itself broadly as disfavoring medieval scholastic logic and dialectic and as favoring instead the study of classical Latin style and grammar and philology and rhetoric.

One influential figure in the rebirth of interest in classical rhetoric was Erasmus c. His work, De Duplici Copia Verborum et Rerum also known as Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style , was widely published it went through more than editions throughout Europe and became one of the basic school texts on the subject. Its treatment of rhetoric is less comprehensive than the classic works of antiquity, but provides a traditional treatment of res-verba matter and form : its first book treats the subject of elocutio , showing the student how to use schemes and tropes ; the second book covers inventio.

Much of the emphasis is on abundance of variation copia means "plenty" or "abundance", as in copious or cornucopia , so both books focus on ways to introduce the maximum amount of variety into discourse. For instance, in one section of the De Copia , Erasmus presents two hundred variations of the sentence " Semper, dum vivam, tui meminero. Its orations in favour of qualities such as madness spawned a type of exercise popular in Elizabethan grammar schools, later called adoxography , which required pupils to compose passages in praise of useless things.

Juan Luis Vives — also helped shape the study of rhetoric in England. His best-known work was a book on education, De Disciplinis , published in , and his writings on rhetoric included Rhetoricae, sive De Ratione Dicendi, Libri Tres , De Consultatione , and a rhetoric on letter writing, De Conscribendis Epistolas It is likely that many well-known English writers were exposed to the works of Erasmus and Vives as well as those of the Classical rhetoricians in their schooling, which was conducted in Latin not English and often included some study of Greek and placed considerable emphasis on rhetoric.

See, for example, T. University of Illinois Press, The midth century saw the rise of vernacular rhetorics—those written in English rather than in the Classical languages; adoption of works in English was slow, however, due to the strong orientation toward Latin and Greek. During this same period, a movement began that would change the organization of the school curriculum in Protestant and especially Puritan circles and led to rhetoric losing its central place.

In his scheme of things, the five components of rhetoric no longer lived under the common heading of rhetoric. Instead, invention and disposition were determined to fall exclusively under the heading of dialectic, while style, delivery, and memory were all that remained for rhetoric.

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See Walter J. Ramus was martyred during the French Wars of Religion. His teachings, seen as inimical to Catholicism, were short-lived in France but found a fertile ground in the Netherlands, Germany and England. This work provided a simple presentation of rhetoric that emphasized the treatment of style, and became so popular that it was mentioned in John Brinsley 's Ludus literarius; or The Grammar Schoole as being the "most used in the best schooles". Many other Ramist rhetorics followed in the next half-century, and by the 17th century, their approach became the primary method of teaching rhetoric in Protestant and especially Puritan circles.

Ramism could not exert any influence on the established Catholic schools and universities, which remained loyal to Scholasticism, or on the new Catholic schools and universities founded by members of the religious orders known as the Society of Jesus or the Oratorians, as can be seen in the Jesuit curriculum in use right up to the 19th century, across the Christian world known as the Ratio Studiorum that Claude Pavur, S.

Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, If the influence of Cicero and Quintilian permeates the Ratio Studiorum , it is through the lenses of devotion and the militancy of the Counter-Reformation. The Ratio was indeed imbued with a sense of the divine, of the incarnate logos, that is of rhetoric as an eloquent and humane means to reach further devotion and further action in the Christian city, which was absent from Ramist formalism. The Ratio is, in rhetoric, the answer to St Ignatius Loyola's practice, in devotion, of "spiritual exercises".

This complex oratorical-prayer system is absent from Ramism. However, in England, several writers influenced the course of rhetoric during the 17th century, many of them carrying forward the dichotomy that had been set forth by Ramus and his followers during the preceding decades.

Of greater importance is that this century saw the development of a modern, vernacular style that looked to English, rather than to Greek, Latin, or French models. Francis Bacon — , although not a rhetorician, contributed to the field in his writings. One of the concerns of the age was to find a suitable style for the discussion of scientific topics, which needed above all a clear exposition of facts and arguments, rather than the ornate style favored at the time.

Bacon in his The Advancement of Learning criticized those who are preoccupied with style rather than "the weight of matter, worth of subject, soundness of argument, life of invention, or depth of judgment". On matters of style, he proposed that the style conform to the subject matter and to the audience, that simple words be employed whenever possible, and that the style should be agreeable.

Thomas Hobbes — also wrote on rhetoric. Along with a shortened translation of Aristotle 's Rhetoric , Hobbes also produced a number of other works on the subject. Sharply contrarian on many subjects, Hobbes, like Bacon, also promoted a simpler and more natural style that used figures of speech sparingly. Perhaps the most influential development in English style came out of the work of the Royal Society founded in , which in set up a committee to improve the English language.

Sprat regarded "fine speaking" as a disease, and thought that a proper style should "reject all amplifications, digressions, and swellings of style" and instead "return back to a primitive purity and shortness" History of the Royal Society , While the work of this committee never went beyond planning, John Dryden is often credited with creating and exemplifying a new and modern English style. His central tenet was that the style should be proper "to the occasion, the subject, and the persons". As such, he advocated the use of English words whenever possible instead of foreign ones, as well as vernacular, rather than Latinate, syntax.

His own prose and his poetry became exemplars of this new style. Arguably one of the most influential schools of rhetoric during this time was Scottish Belletristic rhetoric, exemplified by such professors of rhetoric as Hugh Blair whose Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres saw international success in various editions and translations.

At the turn of the 20th century, there was a revival of rhetorical study manifested in the establishment of departments of rhetoric and speech at academic institutions, as well as the formation of national and international professional organizations. Kuypers and Andrew King suggest that the early interest in rhetorical studies was a movement away from elocution as taught in departments of English in the United States, and was an attempt to refocus rhetorical studies away from delivery only to civic engagement.

Collectively, they write, twentieth century rhetorical studies offered an understanding of rhetoric that demonstrated a "rich complexity" of how rhetorical scholars understood the nature of rhetoric. The rise of advertising and of mass media such as photography , telegraphy , radio , and film brought rhetoric more prominently into people's lives.

More recently the term rhetoric has been applied to media forms other than verbal language, e. Visual rhetoric.

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Rhetoric can be analyzed by a variety of methods and theories. One such method is criticism. When those using criticism analyze instances of rhetoric what they do is called rhetorical criticism see section below. According to rhetorical critic Jim A. Kuypers , "The use of rhetoric is an art; as such, it does not lend itself well to scientific methods of analysis. Criticism is an art as well; as such, it is particularly well suited for examining rhetorical creations.

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For example, in the Sciences researchers purposefully adhere to a strict method the scientific method. All scientific researchers are to use this same basic method, and successful experiments must be percent replicable by others. The application of the scientific method may take numerous forms, but the overall method remains the same—and the personality of the researcher is excised from the actual study.

In sharp contrast, criticism one of many Humanistic methods of generating knowledge actively involves the personality of the researcher. The very choices of what to study, and how and why to study a rhetorical artifact are heavily influenced by the personal qualities of the researcher. In criticism this is especially important since the personality of the critic considered an integral component of the study.

Further personalizing criticism, we find that rhetorical critics use a variety of means when examining a particular rhetorical artifact, with some critics even developing their own unique perspective to better examine a rhetorical artifact.

Edwin Black rhetorician wrote on this point that, "Methods, then, admit of varying degrees of personality. And criticism, on the whole, is near the indeterminate, contingent, personal end of the methodological scale. In consequence of this placement, it is neither possible nor desirable for criticism to be fixed into a system, for critical techniques to be objectified, for critics to be interchangeable for purposes of [scientific] replication, or for rhetorical criticism to serve as the handmaiden of quasi-scientific theory.

Jim A. Kuypers sums this idea of criticism as art in the following manner: "In short, criticism is an art, not a science. It is not a scientific method; it uses subjective methods of argument; it exists on its own, not in conjunction with other methods of generating knowledge i. There does not exist an analytic method that is widely recognized as "the" rhetorical method, partly because many in rhetorical study see rhetoric as merely produced by reality see dissent from that view below. It is important to note that the object of rhetorical analysis is typically discourse, and therefore the principles of "rhetorical analysis" would be difficult to distinguish from those of " discourse analysis ".

However, rhetorical analytic methods can also be applied to almost anything, including objects—a car, a castle, a computer, a comportment. Generally speaking, rhetorical analysis makes use of rhetorical concepts ethos, logos, kairos, mediation, etc. When the object of study happens to be some type of discourse a speech, a poem, a joke, a newspaper article , the aim of rhetorical analysis is not simply to describe the claims and arguments advanced within the discourse, but more important to identify the specific semiotic strategies employed by the speaker to accomplish specific persuasive goals.

Therefore, after a rhetorical analyst discovers a use of language that is particularly important in achieving persuasion, she typically moves onto the question of "How does it work? There are some scholars who do partial rhetorical analysis and defer judgments about rhetorical success. In other words, some analysts attempt to avoid the question of "Was this use of rhetoric successful [in accomplishing the aims of the speaker]?

This question allows a shift in focus from the speaker's objectives to the effects and functions of the rhetoric itself. Rhetorical strategies are the efforts made by authors to persuade or inform their readers. Rhetorical strategies are employed by writers and refer to the different ways they can persuade the reader.

According to Gray, there are various argument strategies used in writing. He describes four of these as argument from analogy, argument from absurdity, thought experiments, and inference to the best explanation. Modern rhetorical criticism explores the relationship between text and context; that is, how an instance of rhetoric relates to circumstances. Since the aim of rhetoric is to be persuasive, the level to which the rhetoric in question persuades its audience is what must be analyzed, and later criticized.

In determining the extent to which a text is persuasive, one may explore the text's relationship with its audience, purpose, ethics, argument, evidence, arrangement, delivery, and style. The antithetical view places the rhetor at the center of creating that which is considered the extant situation; i. Following the neo-Aristotelian approaches to criticism, scholars began to derive methods from other disciplines, such as history, philosophy, and the social sciences.

Throughout the s and s, methodological pluralism replaced the singular neo-Aristotelian method. Methodological rhetorical criticism is typically done by deduction, where a broad method is used to examine a specific case of rhetoric. By the mids, however, the study of rhetorical criticism began to move away from precise methodology towards conceptual issues.

Conceptually driven criticism [83] operates more through abduction, according to scholar James Jasinski , who argues that this emerging type of criticism can be thought of as a back-and-forth between the text and the concepts, which are being explored at the same time. The concepts remain "works in progress", and understanding those terms develops through the analysis of a text.

Criticism is considered rhetorical when it focuses on the way some types of discourse react to situational exigencies—problems or demands—and constraints. This means that modern rhetorical criticism is based in how the rhetorical case or object persuades, defines, or constructs the audience. In modern terms, what can be considered rhetoric includes, but it is not limited to, speeches, scientific discourse, pamphlets, literary work, works of art, and pictures.

Contemporary rhetorical criticism has maintained aspects of early neo-Aristotelian thinking through close reading, which attempts to explore the organization and stylistic structure of a rhetorical object.


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  4. Rhetorical criticism serves several purposes or functions. First, rhetorical criticism hopes to help form or improve public taste. It helps educate audiences and develops them into better judges of rhetorical situations by reinforcing ideas of value, morality, and suitability.

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    Rhetorical criticism can thus contribute to the audience's understanding of themselves and society. According to Jim A. Kuypers , a dual purpose for performing criticism should be primarily to enhance our appreciation and understanding. These are not hollow goals, but quality of life issues. By improving understanding and appreciation, the critic can offer new and potentially exciting ways for others to see the world. Through understanding we also produce knowledge about human communication; in theory this should help us to better govern our interactions with others.

    Rhetoric was part of the curriculum in Jesuit and, to a lesser extent, Oratorian colleges until the French Revolution. The cornerstone of Jesuit Education was Eloquentia Perfecta. Nonetheless, in the 18th Century, rhetoric was the structure and crown of secondary education, with works such as Rollin's Treatise of Studies achieving a wide and enduring fame across the Continent. The main representative remains Rivarol. The French Revolution, however, turned this around. Philosophers such as Condorcet , who drafted the French revolutionary chart for a people's education under the rule of reason, dismissed rhetoric as an instrument of oppression in the hands of clerics in particular.

    The Revolution went as far as to suppress the Bar, arguing that forensic rhetoric did disservice to a rational system of justice, by allowing fallacies and emotions to come into play. Nonetheless, as later historians of the 19th century were keen to explain, the Revolution was a high moment of eloquence and rhetorical prowess, although set against a background of rejecting rhetoric.

    Under the First Empire and its wide-ranging educational reforms, imposed on or imitated across the Continent, rhetoric regained little ground. In fact, instructions to the newly founded Polytechnic School, tasked with training the scientific and technical elites, made it clear that written reporting was to supersede oral reporting. When manuals were redrafted in the mid-century, in particular after the Revolution to formulate a national curriculum, care was taken to distance their approach to rhetoric from that of the Church, which was seen as an agent of conservatism and reactionary politics.

    By the end of the s, a major change had taken place: philosophy of the rationalist or eclectic kind, generally Kantian, had taken over rhetoric as the true end stage of secondary education the so-called Class of Philosophy bridged secondary and university education. Rhetoric was then relegated to the study of literary figures of speech, a discipline later on taught as Stylistics within the French literature curriculum. More decisively, in , a new standard written exercise superseded the rhetorical exercises of speech writing, letter writing and narration.

    The new genre, called dissertation, had been invented in , for the purpose of rational argument in the philosophy class. Typically, in a dissertation, a question is asked, such as: "Is history a sign of humanity's freedom? Hegelianism influenced the dissertation design. It remains today the standard of writing in French humanities. By the beginning of the 20th century, rhetoric was fast losing the remains of its former importance, and eventually was taken out of the school curriculum altogether at the time of the Separation of State and Churches Part of the argument was that rhetoric remained the last element of irrationality, driven by religious arguments, in what was perceived as inimical to Republican education.

    The move, initiated in , found its resolution in when rhetoric was expunged from all curricula. At the same time, Aristotelian rhetoric, owing to a revival of Thomistic philosophy initiated by Rome, regained ground in what was left of Catholic education in France, in particular at the prestigious Faculty of Theology of Paris, now a private entity. Yet, rhetoric vanished substantially from the French scene, educational or intellectual, for some 60 years..

    In the early s a change began to take place, as the word rhetoric and the body of knowledge it covers began to be used again, in a modest and almost secret manner. Knowledge of rhetoric was so dim in the early s that his short memoir on rhetoric was seen as highly innovative. Basic as it was, it did help rhetoric regain some currency in avant-garde circles. Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan , his contemporary, makes references to rhetoric, in particular to the Pre-Socratics.

    Philosopher Jacques Derrida wrote on Voice. At the same time, more profound work was taking place that eventually gave rise to the French school of rhetoric as it exists today. This rhetorical revival took place on two fronts. This was the pioneering work of Marc Fumaroli who, building on the work of classicist and Neo-Latinist Alain Michel and French scholars such as Roger Zuber, published his famed Age de l'Eloquence , was one of the founders of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric and was eventually elevated to a chair in rhetoric at the prestigious College de France.

    He is the editor in chief of a monumental History of Rhetoric in Modern Europe. Second, in the area of Classical studies, in the wake of Alain Michel, Latin scholars fostered a renewal in Cicero studies. They broke away from a pure literary reading of his orations, in an attempt to embed Cicero in European ethics. Meanwhile, among Greek scholars, the literary historian and philologist Jacques Bompaire , the philologist and philosopher E. Also French philosophers specialized in Arabic commentaries on Aristotle's Rhetoric.

    Links between the two strands—literary and philosophical—of the French school of rhetoric are strong and collaborative, and bear witness to the revival of rhetoric in France. Rhetoric is practiced by social animals in a variety of ways. For example, birds use song , various animals warn members of their species of danger, chimpanzees have the capacity to deceive through communicative keyboard systems, and deer stags compete for the attention of mates.

    While these might be understood as rhetorical actions attempts at persuading through meaningful actions and utterances , they can also be seen as rhetorical fundamentals shared by humans and animals. The self-awareness required to practice rhetoric might be difficult to notice and acknowledge in some animals.

    However, some animals are capable of acknowledging themselves in a mirror, and therefore, they might be understood to be self-aware and engaged in rhetoric when practicing some form of language, and therefore, rhetoric. Anthropocentrism plays a significant role in human-animal relationships, reflecting and perpetuating binaries in which humans are assumed to be beings that "have" extraordinary qualities while animals are regarded as beings that "lack" those qualities.

    This dualism is manifested through other forms as well, such as reason and sense, mind and body, ideal and phenomenon in which the first category of each pair reason , mind , and ideal represents and belongs to only humans. By becoming aware of and overcoming these dualistic conceptions including the one between humans and animals, human knowledge of themselves and the world is expected to become more complete and holistic.

    The act of naming partially defines the rhetorical relationships between humans and animals, though both may be understood to engage in rhetoric beyond human naming and categorizing. Those animals do practice deliberative, judicial, and epideictic rhetoric deploying ethos , logos , and pathos with gesture and preen, sing and growl.

    The locus classicus for Greek and Latin primary texts on rhetoric is the Loeb Classical Library of the Harvard University Press , published with an English translation on the facing page. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the art of rhetoric in general. For the work by Aristotle, see Rhetoric Aristotle. For modes of persuasion, see Rhetorical strategies. This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in French.

    April Click [show] for important translation instructions. View a machine-translated version of the French article. Machine translation like Deepl or Google Translate is a useful starting point for translations, but translators must revise errors as necessary and confirm that the translation is accurate, rather than simply copy-pasting machine-translated text into the English Wikipedia. Do not translate text that appears unreliable or low-quality. If possible, verify the text with references provided in the foreign-language article.

    You must provide copyright attribution in the edit summary accompanying your translation by providing an interlanguage link to the source of your translation. A model attribution edit summary using German : Content in this edit is translated from the existing German Wikipedia article at [[:de:Exact name of German article]]; see its history for attribution. For more guidance, see Wikipedia:Translation. Main article: Sophists. Main article: Isocrates. Main articles: Plato and Platonism. This section needs additional citations for verification.

    Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Main article: Rhetoric Aristotle. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. July Learn how and when to remove this template message. Main articles: Quintilian and Byzantine rhetoric. Philosophy portal Psychology portal. Classical rhetoric for the modern student. New York: Oxford University Press. Rhetoric: discovery and change.

    Archived from the original on 15 April Retrieved 19 October See, for instance, Johnstone, Henry W. Spring , — Nelson, Allan Megill, and Donald N. John Louis Lucaites, et al. New York: Guilford Press, Aristotle's Rhetoric. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, Political Style: The Artistry of Power. When Words Lose Their Meaning. Winifred Bryan Horner and Michael Leff. Conley, T. University of Chicago Press. A New History of Classical Rhetoric. Princeton University Press.

    Martin's, n. Archived from the original PDF on 5 February Introduction to Rhetorical Theory. Illinois: Waveland Press. Canada: Wadsworth Publishing. Binkley ed. Kennedy, G. The Rhetorical tradition: readings from classical times to the present. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press. Archived from the original on 8 October Retrieved 28 October For instance, when a magazine claims that An MIT professor predicts that the robotic era is coming in , the use of big-name "MIT" a world-renowned American university for the advanced research in mathematics, science, and technology establishes the "strong" credibility.

    Martins, 2nd ed. Ong and Charles J. The history of speech communication: The emergence of a discipline, — The ethics and politics of speech: Communication and rhetoric in the twentieth century. Rhetorical theory: an introduction. Quarterly Journal of Speech. This was a compilation of exhibits of ads and other materials from popular culture with short essays involving rhetorical analyses of the ways in which the material in an item aims to persuade and comment on the persuasive strategies in each item.

    McLuhan later shifted the focus of his rhetorical analysis and began to consider how communication media themselves affect us as persuasive devices. McLuhan expresses this insight when he says " The medium is the message ". This shift in focus from his book led to his two most widely known books, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man University of Toronto Press, and Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man McGraw-Hill, '; these books represent an inward turn to attending to one's consciousness in contrast to the more outward orientation of other rhetoricians toward sociological considerations and symbolic interaction.

    The Uses of Argument. Cambridge University Press. The rhetorical tradition: Readings from classical times to the present. Ann Harbor, MI: Dissertation. Modern Language Notes. The Platonic conception of beauty is extremely wide and metaphysical: there is a Form of Beauty, which can only be known non-perceptually, but it is more closely related to the erotic than to the arts.

    Art for Kant falls under the broader topic of aesthetic judgment, which covers judgments of the beautiful, judgments of the sublime, and teleological judgments of natural organisms and of nature itself. The deepest metaphysical truth, according to Hegel, is that the universe is the concrete realization of what is conceptual or rational. That is, what is conceptual or rational is real, and is the imminent force that animates and propels the self-consciously developing universe. The universe is the concrete realization of what is conceptual or rational, and the rational or conceptual is superior to the sensory.

    So, as the mind and its products alone are capable of truth, artistic beauty is metaphysically superior to natural beauty. Hegel, Introduction III p. A central and defining feature of beautiful works of art is that, through the medium of sensation, each one presents the most fundamental values of its civilization.

    Art and religion in turn are, in this respect, inferior to philosophy, which employs a conceptual medium to present its content. Art initially predominates, in each civilization, as the supreme mode of cultural expression, followed, successively, by religion and philosophy. Skeptical doubts about the possibility and value of a definition of art have figured importantly in the discussion in aesthetics since the s, and though their influence has subsided somewhat, uneasiness about the definitional project persists.

    See section 4, below, and also Kivy , Brand , and Walton Hence art is indefinable Weitz Against this it is claimed that change does not, in general, rule out the preservation of identity over time, that decisions about concept-expansion may be principled rather than capricious, and that nothing bars a definition of art from incorporating a novelty requirement.

    A second sort of argument, less common today than in the heyday of a certain form of extreme Wittgensteinianism, urges that the concepts that make up the stuff of most definitions of art expressiveness, form are embedded in general philosophical theories which incorporate traditional metaphysics and epistemology.

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    But since traditional metaphysics and epistemology are prime instances of language gone on conceptually confused holiday, definitions of art share in the conceptual confusions of traditional philosophy Tilghman A third sort of argument, more historically inflected than the first, takes off from an influential study by the historian of philosophy Paul Kristeller, in which he argued that the modern system of the five major arts [painting, sculpture, architecture, poetry, and music] which underlies all modern aesthetics … is of comparatively recent origin and did not assume definite shape before the eighteenth century, although it had many ingredients which go back to classical, mediaeval, and Renaissance thought.

    As a matter of historical fact, there simply is no stable definiendum for a definition of art to capture. A fourth sort of argument suggests that a definition of art stating individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for a thing to be an artwork, is likely to be discoverable only if cognitive science makes it plausible to think that humans categorize things in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions. But, the argument continues, cognitive science actually supports the view that the structure of concepts mirrors the way humans categorize things — which is with respect to their similarity to prototypes or exemplars , and not in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions.

    So the quest for a definition of art that states individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions is misguided and not likely to succeed Dean Against this it has been urged that psychological theories of concepts like the prototype theory and its relatives can provide at best an account of how people in fact classify things, but not an account of correct classifications of extra-psychological phenomena, and that, even if relevant, prototype theory and other psychological theories of concepts are at present too controversial to draw substantive philosophical morals from Rey ; Adajian A fifth argument against defining art, with a normative tinge that is psychologistic rather than sociopolitical, takes the fact that there is no philosophical consensus about the definition of art as reason to hold that no unitary concept of art exists.

    Concepts of art, like all concepts, after all, should be used for the purpose s they best serve. But not all concepts of art serve all purposes equally well. So not all art concepts should be used for the same purposes. So, since there is no purpose-independent use of the concept of art, art should not be defined Mag Uidhir and Magnus ; cf. Meskin In response, it is noted that some account of what makes various concepts of art concepts of art is still required; this leaves open the possibility of some degree of unity beneath the apparent multiplicity.

    The fact if it is one that different concepts of art are used for different purposes does not itself imply that they are not connected in ordered, to-some-degree systematic ways. That is, it is not evident that there exist a mere arbitrary heap or disjunction of art concepts, constituting an unsystematic patchwork. Perhaps there is a single concept of art with different facets that interlock in an ordered way, or else a multiplicity of concepts that constitute a unity because one is at the core, and the others depend asymmetrically on it.

    The last is an instance of core-dependent homonymy; see the entry on Aristotle , section on Essentialism and Homonymy. A sixth, broadly Marxian sort of objection rejects the project of defining art as an unwitting and confused expression of a harmful ideology. On this view, the search for a definition of art presupposes, wrongly, that the concept of the aesthetic is a creditable one.

    But since the concept of the aesthetic necessarily involves the equally bankrupt concept of disinterestedness, its use advances the illusion that what is most real about things can and should be grasped or contemplated without attending to the social and economic conditions of their production. Definitions of art, consequently, spuriously confer ontological dignity and respectability on social phenomena that probably in fact call more properly for rigorous social criticism and change.

    Their real function is ideological, not philosophical Eagleton Seventh, the members of a complex of skeptically-flavored arguments, from feminist philosophy of art, begin with premises to the effect that art and art-related concepts and practices have been systematically skewed by sex or gender.

    Such premises are supported by a variety of considerations. Moreover, the concept of genius developed historically in such a way as to exclude women artists Battersby, , Korsmeyer Moreover, because all aesthetic judgments are situated and particular, there can be no such thing as disinterested taste. If there is no such thing as disinterested taste, then it is hard to see how there could be universal standards of aesthetic excellence. The non-existence of universal standards of aesthetic excellence undermines the idea of an artistic canon and with it the project of defining art.

    Art as historically constituted, and art-related practices and concepts, then, reflect views and practices that presuppose and perpetuate the subordination of women. The data that definitions of art are supposed to explain are biased, corrupt and incomplete. As a consequence, present definitions of art, incorporating or presupposing as they do a framework that incorporates a history of systematically biased, hierarchical, fragmentary, and mistaken understandings of art and art-related phenomena and concepts, may be so androcentric as to be untenable.

    Some theorists have suggested that different genders have systematically unique artistic styles, methods, or modes of appreciating and valuing art. If so, then a separate canon and gynocentric definitions of art are indicated Battersby , Frueh In any case, in the face of these facts, the project of defining art in anything like the traditional way is to be regarded with suspicion Brand, An eighth argument sort of skeptical argument concludes that, insofar as almost all contemporary definitions foreground the nature of art works , rather than the individual arts to which most?

    If these hard cases are artworks, what makes them so, given their apparent lack of any of the traditional properties of artworks? Are, they, at best, marginal cases? On the other hand, if they are not artworks, then why have generations of experts — art historians, critics, and collectors — classified them as such? And to whom else should one look to determine the true nature of art? There are, it is claimed, few or no empirical studies of art full stop, though empirical studies of the individual arts abound.

    Such disputes inevitably end in stalemate. Stalemate results because a standard artwork-focused definitions of art endorse different criteria of theory choice, and b on the basis of their preferred criteria, appeal to incompatible intuitions about the status of such theoretically-vexed cases. In consequence, disagreements between standard definitions of art that foreground artworks are unresolvable. To avoid this stalemate, an alternative definitional strategy that foregrounds the arts rather than individual artworks, is indicated.

    See section 4. Philosophers influenced by the moderate Wittgensteinian strictures discussed above have offered family resemblance accounts of art, which, as they purport to be non-definitions, may be usefully considered at this point. Two species of family resemblance views will be considered: the resemblance-to-a-paradigm version, and the cluster version. Against this view: since things do not resemble each other simpliciter , but only in at least one respect or other, the account is either far too inclusive, since everything resembles everything else in some respect or other, or, if the variety of resemblance is specified, tantamount to a definition, since resemblance in that respect will be either a necessary or sufficient condition for being an artwork.

    The family resemblance view raises questions, moreover, about the membership and unity of the class of paradigm artworks. If the account lacks an explanation of why some items and not others go on the list of paradigm works, it seems explanatorily deficient. The cluster version of the family resemblance view has been defended by a number of philosophers Bond , Dissanayake , Dutton , Gaut The view typically provides a list of properties, no one of which is a necessary condition for being a work of art, but which are jointly sufficient for being a work of art, and which is such that at least one proper subset thereof is sufficient for being a work of art.

    Lists offered vary, but overlap considerably. Here is one, due to Gaut: 1 possessing positive aesthetic properties; 2 being expressive of emotion; 3 being intellectually challenging; 4 being formally complex and coherent; 5 having the capacity to convey complex meanings; 6 exhibiting an individual point of view; 7 being original; 8 being an artifact or performance which is the product of a high degree of skill; 9 belonging to an established artistic form; 10 being the product of an intention to make a work of art Gaut The cluster account has been criticized on several grounds.

    Second, if the list of properties is incomplete, as some cluster theorists hold, then some justification or principle would be needed for extending it. Third, the inclusion of the ninth property on the list, belonging to an established art form , seems to regenerate or duck , rather than answer, the definitional question. Finally, it is worth noting that, although cluster theorists stress what they take to be the motley heterogeneity of the class of artworks, they tend with surprising regularity to tacitly give the aesthetic a special, perhaps unifying, status among the properties they put forward as merely disjunctive.

    One cluster theorist, for example, gives a list very similar to the one discussed above it includes representational properties, expressiveness, creativity, exhibiting a high degree of skill, belonging to an established artform , but omits aesthetic properties on the grounds that it is the combination of the other items on the list which, combined in the experience of the work of art, are precisely the aesthetic qualities of the work Dutton Gaut, whose list is cited above, includes aesthetic properties as a separate item on the list, but construes them very narrowly; the difference between these ways of formulating the cluster view appears to be mainly nominal.

    Definitions of art attempt to make sense of two different sorts of facts: art has important historically contingent cultural features, as well as trans-historical, pan-cultural characteristics that point in the direction of a relatively stable aesthetic core. Whether the concept of art is precise enough to justify this much confidence about what falls under its extension claim is unclear. Such classically-flavored definitions take traditional concepts like the aesthetic or allied concepts like the formal, or the expressive as basic, and aim to account for the phenomena by making those concepts harder — for example, by endorsing a concept of the aesthetic rich enough to include non-perceptual properties, or by attempting an integration of those concepts e.

    Conventionalist definitions deny that art has essential connection to aesthetic properties, or to formal properties, or to expressive properties, or to any type of property taken by traditional definitions to be essential to art. Conventionalist definitions have been strongly influenced by the emergence, in the twentieth century, of artworks that seem to differ radically from all previous artworks.

    Conventionalist definitions have also been strongly influenced by the work of a number of historically-minded philosophers, who have documented the rise and development of modern ideas of the fine arts, the individual arts, the work of art, and the aesthetic Kristeller, Shiner, Carroll, Goehr, Kivy. Conventionalist definitions come in two varieties, institutional and historical. Institutionalist conventionalism, or institutionalism, a synchronic view, typically hold that to be a work of art is to be an artifact of a kind created, by an artist, to be presented to an artworld public Dickie Historical conventionalism, a diachronic view, holds that artworks necessarily stand in an art-historical relation to some set of earlier artworks.

    The groundwork for institutional definitions was laid by Arthur Danto, better known to non-philosophers as the long-time influential art critic for the Nation. Clause iv is what makes the definition institutionalist. The view has been criticized for entailing that art criticism written in a highly rhetorical style is art, lacking but requiring an independent account of what makes a context art historical , and for not applying to music.

    The most prominent and influential institutionalism is that of George Dickie. According to an early version, a work of art is an artifact upon which some person s acting on behalf of the artworld has conferred the status of candidate for appreciation Dickie Both versions have been widely criticized. Philosophers have objected that art created outside any institution seems possible, although the definition rules it out, and that the artworld, like any institution, seems capable of error.

    Davies , pp. Early on, Dickie claimed that anyone who sees herself as a member of the artworld is a member of the artworld: if this is true, then unless there are constraints on the kinds of things the artworld can put forward as artworks or candidate artworks, any entity can be an artwork though not all are , which appears overly expansive. Finally, Matravers has helpfully distinguished strong and weak institutionalism. Strong institutionalism holds that there is some reason that is always the reason the art institution has for saying that something is a work of art.

    Weak institutionalism holds that, for every work of art, there is some reason or other that the institution has for saying that it is a work of art Matravers Manipulating an artistic vehicle is in turn possible only if the artist consciously operates with reference to shared understandings embodied in the practices of a community of receivers.

    The valued functions collective belief in which make an institution an art institution are those spelled out by Gaut in his cluster account see section 3. Some institutional social kinds have this trait: something can fail to be a token of that kind even if there is collective agreement that it counts as a token of that kind. Suppose someone gives a big cocktail party, to which everyone in Paris invited, and things get so out of hand that the casualty rate is greater than the Battle of Austerlitz. Even if everyone thinks the event was a cocktail party, it is possible contrary to Searle that they are mistaken: it may have been a war or battle.

    All of them are, or resemble, inductive definitions: they claim that certain entities belong unconditionally to the class of artworks, while others do so because they stand in the appropriate relations thereto. A second version, historical narrativism, comes in several varieties.

    On one, a sufficient but not necessary condition for the identification of a candidate as a work of art is the construction of a true historical narrative according to which the candidate was created by an artist in an artistic context with a recognized and live artistic motivation, and as a result of being so created, it resembles at least one acknowledged artwork Carroll On another, more ambitious and overtly nominalistic version of historical narrativism, something is an artwork if and only if 1 there are internal historical relations between it and already established artworks; 2 these relations are correctly identified in a narrative; and 3 that narrative is accepted by the relevant experts.

    The experts do not detect that certain entities are artworks; rather, the fact that the experts assert that certain properties are significant in particular cases is constitutive of art Stock The similarity of these views to institutionalism is obvious, and the criticisms offered parallel those urged against institutionalism.

    First, historical definitions appear to require, but lack, any informative characterization of art traditions art functions, artistic contexts, etc. Correlatively, non-Western art, or alien, autonomous art of any kind appears to pose a problem for historical views: any autonomous art tradition or artworks — terrestrial, extra-terrestrial, or merely possible — causally isolated from our art tradition, is either ruled out by the definition, which seems to be a reductio , or included, which concedes the existence of a supra-historical concept of art.

    So, too, there could be entities that for adventitious reasons are not correctly identified in historical narratives, although in actual fact they stand in relations to established artworks that make them correctly describable in narratives of the appropriate sort. Second, historical definitions also require, but do not provide a satisfactory, informative account of the basis case — the first artworks, or ur-artworks, in the case of the intentional-historical definitions, or the first or central art-forms, in the case of historical functionalism.

    Third, nominalistic historical definitions seem to face a version of the Euthyphro dilemma. If, on one hand, they include no characterization of what it is to be an expert, and hence no explanation as to why the list of experts contains the people it does, then they imply that what makes things artworks is inexplicable. On the other hand, suppose such definitions provide a substantive account of what it is to be an expert, so that to be an expert is to possess some ability lacked by non-experts taste, say in virtue of the possession of which they are able to discern historical connections between established artworks and candidate artworks.

    Defenders of historical definitions have replies. First, as regards autonomous art traditions, it can be held that anything we would recognize as an art tradition or an artistic practice would display aesthetic concerns, because aesthetic concerns have been central from the start, and persisted centrally for thousands of years, in the Western art tradition.

    Hence it is an historical, not a conceptual truth that anything we recognize as an art practice will centrally involve the aesthetic; it is just that aesthetic concerns that have always dominated our art tradition Levinson But this principle entails, implausibly, that every concept is purely historical.

    Suppose that we discovered a new civilization whose inhabitants could predict how the physical world works with great precision, on the basis of a substantial body of empirically acquired knowledge that they had accumulated over centuries. The reason we would credit them with having a scientific tradition might well be that our own scientific tradition has since its inception focused on explaining things. It does not seem to follow that science is a purely historical concept with no essential connection to explanatory aims. Second, as to the first artworks, or the central art-forms or functions, some theorists hold that an account of them can only take the form of an enumeration.

    Stecker takes this approach: he says that the account of what makes something a central art form at a given time is, at its core, institutional, and that the central artforms can only be listed Stecker and

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