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Rhetoric and Violence

Rhetoric and Violence

Four (p.134) Rhetoric and Violence
Deep Rhetoric
James Crosswhite
University of Chicago Press

This chapter illustrates the intimate relation of rhetoric to violence. On the one hand, rhetoric is considered an alternative to violence—a sort of renunciation of violence. On the other, it is suspected as violence masquerading as language and reason—every bit as coercive as an armed interlocutor. Some contemporary thinkers even consider language itself as a permanent host of this violence, with rhetoric inevitably becoming the deployment of it. The relation is intimate because rhetoric is defined as the other to violence, because it is suspected of harboring violence, and because, even in its defining itself as nonviolence, it claims to be able to accomplish exactly what violence accomplishes. Traditionally, rhetoric has been studied as the art that can fulfill the promise of reason—to settle conflicts without violence and through reasoning that properly appreciates and evaluates the different perspectives that have come into conflict.

Keywords:   rhetoric, violence, conflicts, contemporary thinkers, nonviolence, reason

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