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The Charm of Rhetoric: George Santayana and the Aesthetics of Rhetoric

Anderson, Brita (2016) The Charm of Rhetoric: George Santayana and the Aesthetics of Rhetoric. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation aims to place George Santayana within the rhetorical tradition, arguing both that rhetoric helps illuminate his philosophy and that his philosophy extends rhetoric beyond its typical persuasive or oppositional frame. After situating Santayana within rhetoric’s purview and providing justification for this move, I highlight Santayana’s aesthetics as the means to view rhetoric in this novel way. In so doing, Santayana, I argue, permits us to view rhetoric aesthetically, extending its scope to achieve harmony among disparate parts. Such harmony could occur vis-à-vis beauty, which serves as the aesthetic principle underlying rhetoric.

Chapter One sets out to offer an overview of Santayana’s aesthetics, focusing on his treatment of the true, the good, and the beautiful. Santayana uniquely shows an interrelationship between these concepts that has an effect on the ways in which we view relationships within and among individuals and communities, particularly as the relationship occurs as a result of their discourse. Chapter Two examines the relationship between individual and community more thoroughly, showing how an early goal of individual life was merely survival but necessarily transformed into value-laden communities. Due to the use of symbols in attaching value and meaning to objects and actions, this chapter also examines the rhetorical concept doxa. In light of circulating and competing interests, I also reconsider both dissoi logoi and phronesis because of Santayana’s comments. In Chapter Three, I focus on the imagination, emotion, epideictic rhetoric, and form. Emotions and passion influence the preferences of individuals, but so too do they connect people and experiences. In effect, rhetoric acts as a harmonizing capacity, but it also serves an instrumental purpose whereby it provides form to thought and emotion, both engendering and making articulate the imagination and the emotions. Chapter Four concludes my project, summarizing both it and Santayana’s contributions. In light of these discoveries, I ask scholars, especially rhetoricians, to consider rhetoric beyond their own rhetorical doxa, a rhetoric that departs from the focus on division and debate and encourages harmony within a beautiful life of reason.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Anderson, Britabja24@pitt.eduBJA24
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPoulakos, Johnpoulakos@pitt.eduPOULAKOS
Committee MemberBialostosky, Don Hdhb2@pitt.eduDHB2
Committee MemberLyne, Johnjlyne@pitt.eduJLYNE
Committee MemberMitchell, Gordon Rgordonm@pitt.eduGORDONM
Date: 1 June 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 18 September 2015
Approval Date: 1 June 2016
Submission Date: 7 February 2016
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 247
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Rhetoric, Aesthetics, George Santayana, emotion, imagination, true, good, beautiful, beauty, philosophy, harmony, doxa, dissoi logoi, dialectic, phronesis, experience, form, epideictic, interests
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2016 13:23
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2021 05:15


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