Zen in the Art of Rhetoric: An Inquiry into Coherence

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SUNY Press, 1996 - Philosophy - 220 pages
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Zen in the Art of Rhetoric interrogates the role of dualistic thought in human communication and culture, and offers new insights into the similarities and differences that mark Eastern and Western conceptualizations of language. Beginning with a reconsideration of the relationship between Zen Buddhism and rhetoric, the book progresses through a series of essays that examines the epistemological assumptions shared by pre-classical and postmodern rhetorics and Buddhist metaphysics, suggesting that the conception of rhetoric articulated by the Greek Sophists parallels the questioning of duality posed by Zenists as well as the critique of negation advanced by some postmodern theorists.

Drawing on poetry, personal narratives, critical analysis, and epistemological explorations, this book expands traditional conceptions of rhetoric beyond an “art of persuasion” to a power to manage diverse conceptions of reality, freeing the study and practice of discourse from the essentializing constraints of foundationist philosophy. As an “inquiry into coherence,” the book explores social, political, and pedagogical issues ranging from racism, to cultural and ethnic diversity, to the role of argument and persuasion in the creation and perpetuation of difference. The result of this exploration is an understanding of rhetoric as a Tao, a Way of being, thinking, and speaking grounded in what the author calls “dialogic coherence,” an actively non-argumentative approach to language, life, and method that is based upon the philosophies and practices of the Eastern martial arts.
 

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Contents

To Grasp the Words and Die
19
Beginners Mind
43
Otherness
65
Emptiness
93
One Hand Clapping
113
Coherence
131
Honoring the Form
149
Notes
169
References
195
Index
215
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Page 25 - It is proposed . . . that the widespread and pervasive distinctions between people (race, nation, family, profession, etc., etc.), which are now preventing mankind from working together for the common good, and indeed, even for survival, have one of the key factors of their origin in a kind of thought that treats things as inherently divided, disconnected, and 'broken up' into yet smaller constituent parts.

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About the author (1996)

Mark Lawrence McPhail is Associate Professor of Communications in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah.

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