Publication details [#56045]

Lima, Katia A. 2012. On the possibility of rhetoric as a dialogical guide for practical reason(ing). An old challenge in a new era. In Cooren, François and Alain Létourneau, eds. (Re)presentations and Dialogue. (Dialogue Studies 16). John Benjamins. pp. 237–256.
Publication type
Article in book
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins


This paper examines the view of rhetoric as responsible persuasive argumentation, i.e. a conception of it fundamentally based on dialogue which emphasizes the vital circularity (non-vicious but rather constructive) between logos (reasoning), pathos (affectivity) and ethos (character), yet, pointing to the very communicative role and self-reflexivity of human language. The paper stresses that the balance of such a critical cycle is precisely what allows a rational ethos to flourish in argumentation so as to make of us moral beings at all. It thus attempts to contribute to giving plausible answers to old and, yet, increasingly relevant ethical questions such as: What is this we call practical reason(ing)? Can we significantly articulate a conception of its excellence (i.e. practical wisdom) in the dynamic dialogical context of human language? As the paper tries to answer these questions, it comes to realize that the moral restriction of rhetoric to reflective and responsible argumentation is richly empowering rather than limiting, given that as an ethical practice it can go where neither reason nor emotions alone are able to reach. Moreover, as rhetoric is the very art of discourse in action, the paper defends that Discourse Ethics provides us with a new paradigm for also taking it as a dialogical guide for practical reason(ing) itself.