Rhetorical Authority in Athenian Democracy and the Chinese Legalism of Han Fei

Rhetorical Authority in Athenian Democracy and the Chinese Legalism of Han Fei Arabella Lyon Why do the rulers listen to the wild theories of the speech-makers, and bring destruction to the state and ruin to themselves? Because they do not distinguish clearly between public and private interests, do not examine the aptness of the words they hear, and do not make certain that punishments are meted out when they are deserved. ("The Five Vermin," 11) --Han Fei (?289­2 B.C.E.) Han Fei, quoted above, is one of the few early Chinese philosophers to address persuasion specifically and at length, and hence he provides a fine entry point into comparative questions of rhetorical authority and negotiation: Where does rhetorical authority lie? Does the role of the rhetor differ in democracies and authoritarian states? How does the institutional placement of power affect rhetoric and its theories? What are the possible relationships between the rhetor and the audience? The assumption of a powerful rhetor depends on a common Western assumption of equality between the rhetor and the audience--equality in one of the many senses of the word, moral, civic, humanistic, spiritual, intellectual, and physical--as well as dominance of the rhetor's speech act over the audience and scene. This assumption is common with modernity and http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy and Rhetoric Penn State University Press

Rhetorical Authority in Athenian Democracy and the Chinese Legalism of Han Fei

Philosophy and Rhetoric, Volume 41 (1) – Mar 17, 2008

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Publisher
Penn State University Press
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Copyright © 2008 by The Pennsylvania State University. All rights reserved.
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1527-2079
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Abstract

Arabella Lyon Why do the rulers listen to the wild theories of the speech-makers, and bring destruction to the state and ruin to themselves? Because they do not distinguish clearly between public and private interests, do not examine the aptness of the words they hear, and do not make certain that punishments are meted out when they are deserved. ("The Five Vermin," 11) --Han Fei (?289­2 B.C.E.) Han Fei, quoted above, is one of the few early Chinese philosophers to address persuasion specifically and at length, and hence he provides a fine entry point into comparative questions of rhetorical authority and negotiation: Where does rhetorical authority lie? Does the role of the rhetor differ in democracies and authoritarian states? How does the institutional placement of power affect rhetoric and its theories? What are the possible relationships between the rhetor and the audience? The assumption of a powerful rhetor depends on a common Western assumption of equality between the rhetor and the audience--equality in one of the many senses of the word, moral, civic, humanistic, spiritual, intellectual, and physical--as well as dominance of the rhetor's speech act over the audience and scene. This assumption is common with modernity and

Journal

Philosophy and RhetoricPenn State University Press

Published: Mar 17, 2008

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