Chapter published in:Language, Culture and Identity – Signs of Life
Edited by Vera da Silva Sinha, Ana Moreno-Núñez and Zhen Tian
[Cognitive Linguistic Studies in Cultural Contexts 13] 2020
► pp. 249–273
How can I persuade you without making self-assertions?
A cognitive rhetorical analysis of the use of fictive questions in an early Daoist text
This chapter explores the cognitive underpinnings of rhetoric by presenting a case study of the rhetorical use of non-information-seeking questions in the Zhuangzi (4th c. B.C.), a foundational Daoist text. These questions are: expository questions (“Why do I say this? Because…”) and rhetorical questions (“Why bother?”) (Xiang and Pascual 2016). We analyze fictive questions as constructions of intersubjectivity (Verhagen 2005, 2008), involving a viewpoint blend (Dancygier and Sweetser 2012) of the perspectives of the writer, the assumed readers and possibly also the discourse characters. We argue that the ubiquitous rhetorical use of fictive questions in ancient written texts is closely related to our basic human capacities such as mental simulation and perspective taking and emerges from our intrinsically conversational mind
Keywords: fictive questions, intersubjectivity, mental simulation, perspective taking, self-persuasion, viewpoint blending, the Zhuangzi
Published online: 30 April 2020
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