David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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The thesis maintained here is that Nietzsche belongs to and revitalizes a rhetorical tradition which has competed with philosophy for cultural and educational dominance. The general strategy of the thesis is to draw comparisons between Nietzsche and those aspects of the Sophists' activity that were attacked by Plato, in order to challenge philosophy's claim to moral and intellectual superiority over rhetoric. The first chapter considers the allegation that philosophy is demonstrably superior to rhetoric because it has a proper method and can achieve positive results. Against this, it is argued that philosophy is distinguished from rhetoric by its values, not its methodological purity; the remaining chapters probe this conflict of values. Chapter two explores the charge that rhetoric is both manipulative and open to manipulation, notes how Nietzsche's texts have been subject to these two criticisms, and counters them by challenging philosophy's models of manipulation and education. Chapter three examines the rival educational ideals of philosophy and rhetoric, arguing that the key differentiating feature is rhetoric's pragmatism. It shows how this feature has been used to disparage rhetoric, and argues that Nietzsche develops a form of pragmatism that meets the philosophical attack effectively. Chapter four considers the suggestion that rhetoric is less rational than philosophy because it employs looser argumentation, and argues that, at least as manifested by Nietzsche, rhetorical argumentation produces a superior rationality - according to an alternative perspective on reason and science. Chapter five considers the claim that the eloquence of rhetoric is to be condemned for seducing and confusing the seeker after truth; this is countered by developing the Nietzschean dictum that art is worth more than truth. The main conclusion is that, through Nietzsche's development of the ancient tradition, rhetoric emerges as a real alternative "love of wisdom"
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