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L'histoire de la rhétorique dans l'Europe Moderne

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Chapter Summary

This chapter traces the history of "rhetoric" in modern Europe. Rhetoric played a crucial role from Antiquity to the modern period. Both art and craft of the spoken word, it shaped educated Europeans and served as a foundation for literature and as an object for philosophical reflection. Available to all, it guided geniuses as well as less inspired authors, and different religions have used it to advantage. Yet in our own day rhetoric has been discredited. Contemporaries view it as deceitfulness, twisting, and manipulation, and reduce it to formalistic games or even invent for it substitutes with scientific aspirations (the sciences of speech, information, and communication, semiology, etc.). Interest in rhetoric and its history has reawakened since the middle of the twentieth century in reaction to this discrediting.

Keywords: rhetoric; modern Europe; Antiquity; philosophical reflection

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