Document Type

Post-Print

Publication Date

1991

Abstract

Man is a rule-making, rule-governed creature—he is, as Aristotle put it, an animal defined by and within a community of speech. The two disciplines of ethics and rhetoric and the cultural activities they engage are instrumental to this defining activity of human life. If moral life is riddled with ambiguities, theoretical understanding of it is no less plagued with an ambivalent relationship which rhetoric and ethics have to each other, despite their mutual concern with the practical affairs of human beings. To argue a necessary convergence of rhetoric and ethics for an understanding of moral life, it is ironic and paradoxical that the primary models of convergence are the two original thinkers who created the divide. Despite their celebrated differences, Plato and Aristotle share a common belief that the structure and functional activity of speech constitutes individual identity and public community. Their complex discussions of rhetoric and ethics is analytically relevant to contemporary “problems” of relativism and the conceptual tangles of privatism.

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Philosophy Commons

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