On the possibility of rhetoric as a dialogical guide for practical reason(ing)

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We examine the view of <i>rhetoric</i> as responsible persuasive argumentation, i.e. a conception of it fundamentally based on <i>dialogue</i> which emphasizes the vital circularity (non-vicious but rather constructive) between <i>logos</i> (reasoning), <i>pathos</i> (affectivity) and <i>ethos</i> (character), yet, pointing to the very communicative role and self-reflexivity of human language. We stress that the balance of such a critical cycle is precisely what allows a <i>rational ethos</i> to flourish in argumentation so as to make of us moral beings at all. We thus attempt to contribute for giving plausible answers to old and, yet, increasingly relevant ethical questions such as: What is this we call <i>practical reason(ing)</i>&#63; Can we significantly articulate a conception of its excellence (i.e. practical wisdom) in the dynamic dialogical context of human language&#63; As we try to answer these questions, we come to realize that the moral restriction of rhetoric to reflective and responsible argumentation is richly empowering rather than limiting, given that as an <i>ethical practice</i> it can go where neither reason nor emotions alone are able to reach. Moreover, as rhetoric is the very art of <i>discourse in action</i>, we defend that Discourse Ethics provides us with a new paradigm for also taking it as a dialogical guide for practical reason(ing) itself.


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