The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America


an historiographical puzzle

Submitted by Jim Aune on July 16, 2011 - 10:56pm

Believe it or not, I have no hidden agenda behind this question: why, when rhetorical studies took a definite philosophical turn after around 1975 (Philosophy and Rhetoric had then been around for about 7 years), did both my generation and the now roughly two generations younger than mine seize on Continental Philosophy rather than analytic philosophy (I don't know why I've capitalized those differently, but it seems right) for our scholarship? Thoughts?

Submitted by Joshua on July 19, 2011 - 8:09pm.

When I was still taking courses, one of the philosophy profs (a Continental, and Dewey scholar) claimed that a significant number of analytic philosophers had no concern for historical context, and in fact thought that even perennial philosophical questions in the history of philosophy need not be studied historically in order to have the most valuable answer (i.e. an analytic argument). Such ahistorical approaches seem intrinsically allergic to the humanities, which has for so long exalted historical study.

Submitted by Jim Aune on July 19, 2011 - 8:37pm.

I think you nailed it, Joshua. I've been trying to give analytic philosophy another try again (especially in ethics), but I think that's clearly the problem: they want to turn philosophy into maths.

Submitted by syntaxfactory on July 19, 2011 - 8:52pm.

...the analytically minded of my colleagues at Duluth almost rebut the idea of being a "humanity."

Submitted by Daniel L Smith (not verified) on July 19, 2011 - 3:24pm.

that Continental philosophy had so much momentum and academic currency by 1980 - in the humanities - I also think it was much easier to "apply" to already relevant research questions/problems/issues than the work of Anglo-American analytic philosophers.

I hope that made sense.


Submitted by Jim Aune on July 17, 2011 - 10:50pm.

in Robert Gaines's work, also Butler's (although I don't think she quite understands Austin), and Douglas Ehninger took analytic phil seriously. Then it dies out, unless I'm missing something (wait, you have Fred Kauffeld's important work in argumentation, plus the Amsterdam school). Argumentation has become a separate project from rhetorical studies, although it should not have.

Submitted by syntaxfactory on July 17, 2011 - 1:51am.

...but do we have reason to believe that Speech might have gone in a direction different from English, Anthropology, or other disciplines that also turned to the Continental?

I can count on one hand the number of English types who dabbled in the analytic tradition (Fish and, to a lesser extent, Hancher dabbling in Speech Act theory).

In other words, are the overarching narratives of the humanities' turn to Frenchified thought inadequate to cover the turn in Speech?

Submitted by Jim Aune on July 19, 2011 - 4:09pm.

I had a junior faculty person whom I much respect scoff at me a few years ago for suggesting that academic research is a quest for "truth." Therein lies the problem. It's like communicating with Michele Bachmann.

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