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Reassessing the Rhetoric Revival in Political Theory: Cicero, Eloquence, and the Best Form of Life

Author:

Giuseppe Ballacci

Universidade do Minho, PT
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Abstract

This paper provides a critical assessment of what Bryan Garsten has called the ‘rhetoric revival’ in political theory and advances an interpretation of an underappreciated strand of this tradition: Cicero’s ideal of the perfect orator. It argues that, even though the theorists of the ‘rhetoric revival’ have given an important contribution to question the rationalist assumptions of the prevalent theories of deliberative democracy, they have fallen short of acknowledging the broader scope of Cicero’s conception of eloquence, which considers it not only a civic art of public discourse, but also the concrete manifestation of what he considers the best form of life: the union of the vita activa and the vita contemplativa. In the figure of the orator perfectus Cicero expresses an ideal that, blending together the cultivation of the self and political commitment, brings to the fore the ethical and existential dimensions of politics, in a way that the merely deliberative perspective promoted by the theorists of the rhetoric revival is unable to do.

How to Cite: Ballacci, Giuseppe. 2015. “Reassessing the Rhetoric Revival in Political Theory: Cicero, Eloquence, and the Best Form of Life”. Redescriptions: Political Thought, Conceptual History and Feminist Theory 18 (2): 158–80. DOI: http://doi.org/10.7227/R.18.2.3
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Published on 01 Nov 2015.
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