Who’s speaking for whom?
Rhetorical questions as intersubjective mixed viewpoint constructions in an early Daoist text
This paper deals with rhetorically intended questions in the Zhuangzi, a foundational text of Daoism (fourth century bc). Such questions are generally meant to evoke silent answers in the addressee’s mind, thereby involving a fictive type of interaction (Pascual 2006, 2014). We analyse rhetorical questions as constructions of intersubjectivity (see Verhagen 2005, 2008), involving not just a conceptual integration of question and assertion but also a viewpoint blend (Dancygier and Sweetser [eds] 2012). They involve fusing the perspectives of the writer, the assumed prospective readers, and possibly also that of the discourse characters (in the case of rhetorical questions ascribed to a discourse character but meant to represent the writer’s voice). In this highly influential text with abundant mixed viewpoint scenarios, the interpretation of rhetorical questions involves the resolution of different viewpoints, which are set up and shifted in a multi-layered manner for particular argumentative purposes.
- 2.Data and methodology
- 3.Rhetorical questions in the Zhuangzi text
- 4.1Rhetorical questions in the Grounding Space
- 4.2Rhetorical questions in the Current Discourse Space
- 5.Summary and conclusions