Suasive speech: A stronger affective defense of rhetoric and the politics of cognitive poetics

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

A review of empirical data on involuntary affective responses to ‘rhetorical’ speech establishes the need to reexamine Jean-Jacques Rousseau's so-called ‘Weak Defense of Rhetoric,’ which considers rhetorical tropes to be dangerous because they seduce the body. Evaluating empirical findings also challenges Richard Lanham's ‘Strong Defense,’ which dismisses Rousseau and rejects any condemnation of ‘rhetorical speech’ in asserting that all utterances are already rhetorical insofar as they are contextual and selective. Ultimately, experimental psychology and neuroscience studies give good reason to adopt a new, Stronger Affective Defense of Rhetoric, one that prioritises the body and its degrees of affectability, embracing Rousseau's idea that democratic deliberation must be concerned with how the body is intimately and often automatically moved by rhetorical speech.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLanguage & Communication
Volume49
Pages (from-to)36-44
Number of pages9
ISSN0271-5309
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

ID: 215412377