THE JOY OF RHETORIC: TURNS IN RHETORIC AND ONTOLOGY THAT ORIENT BEING IN AESTHETIC HABITUATION

Open Access
Author:
Thomas, Nicholas A.
Graduate Program:
Communication Arts and Sciences
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
August 21, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Rosa A Eberly, Committee Chair
  • Stephen Howard Browne, Committee Member
  • Thomas Walter Benson, Committee Member
  • Christopher P Long, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • habit
  • aesthetics
  • ontology
  • rhetoric
  • tropos
Abstract:
Human beings have been called “political animals,” “animals with speech,” “Cartesian egos,” and many other names by metaphysicians of philosophy. My reading of rhetoric against the traditional canon of metaphysics places human being within dialectics of materiality and ideality, and dialectics of tradition and natality. Embodied and temporal, human beings are rhetorical beings insofar as they must make, aesthetically, something of their dialectical positions (topoi) by participating in dialectical turns that are dramatistic in giving rise to character (tropos). Human beings can easily feel swept up by or thrown into their places, times, and situations; all hopes for agency and justice must turn on a being’s capacity to exercise, or habituate, so as to be prepared to make dialectical placement take on significance in the web of relations called meaning. This dialectical placement may take on significance if form and matter work together, if the patterns of tradition are bent (tropos) to meet the uniqueness of new situations, and if the human being in the middle of it all is properly trained so as to facilitate rhetoric’s work.