The Philosophical Basis of Rhetoric

The Philosophical Basis of Rhetoric I want to begin by distinguishing between what has a philosophical basis at all and what has none. Science, history, morals, and art have a philosophical basis. Fishing, tennis, needlecraft, and carpentry do not. The criterion that determines membership in each list is simple: an activity has a philosophical basis if, and only if, the practice of it distinguishes man from the animals. It must be disqualified on the ground that some animals, as well as men, fish. It might be argued, however, that there is an art of fishing requiring tools utilizable by man alone, and that the ability to fish in this way distinguishes man form the animal. To be sure, in some cultures fishing with appropriate tools is necessary. In others, carpentry is. But if we came across a culture in which fishing did not occur, we would not say, "This creature does not fish; hence he is not a man'; and the same for carpentry. It may seem that the same question arises for science and history. Not all cultures are scientific. If science is indeed, as I maintain, necessary for men, what then prevents us from visiting some primitive tribe and saying, "These http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy and Rhetoric Penn State University Press

The Philosophical Basis of Rhetoric

Philosophy and Rhetoric, Volume 40 (1) – Apr 16, 2007

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Publisher
Penn State University Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 by The Pennsylvania State University. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1527-2079
Publisher site
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Abstract

I want to begin by distinguishing between what has a philosophical basis at all and what has none. Science, history, morals, and art have a philosophical basis. Fishing, tennis, needlecraft, and carpentry do not. The criterion that determines membership in each list is simple: an activity has a philosophical basis if, and only if, the practice of it distinguishes man from the animals. It must be disqualified on the ground that some animals, as well as men, fish. It might be argued, however, that there is an art of fishing requiring tools utilizable by man alone, and that the ability to fish in this way distinguishes man form the animal. To be sure, in some cultures fishing with appropriate tools is necessary. In others, carpentry is. But if we came across a culture in which fishing did not occur, we would not say, "This creature does not fish; hence he is not a man'; and the same for carpentry. It may seem that the same question arises for science and history. Not all cultures are scientific. If science is indeed, as I maintain, necessary for men, what then prevents us from visiting some primitive tribe and saying, "These

Journal

Philosophy and RhetoricPenn State University Press

Published: Apr 16, 2007

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