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Rhetoric, Discourse and Knowledge

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Edited By Maria Załęska and Urszula Okulska

The authors of this volume explore rhetorical and discursive strategies used to negotiate and establish legitimate knowledge and its disciplinary boundaries, to make scientific knowledge interesting outside academic settings as well, and to manage (c)overt knowledge in different social and political contexts. The volume focuses on the cultural concept of knowledge society, examining diverse linguistic means of knowledge transmission from the perspective of the complex interplay between knowledge and persuasion. The contributors discuss both sociological and philosophical issues, as well as textual processes in different genres that aim to communicate knowledge.

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Rhetorical approaches towards knowledge (Maria Załęska)

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Maria Załęska

University of Warsaw

Rhetorical approaches towards knowledge

Abstract: The chapter explores rhetoric and knowledge relationships, from the idea that rhetoric may convey only common knowledge to the view that any kind of knowledge, also scientific one, mobilizes rhetorical resources. The paper focuses on differences among selected disciplinary approaches – the General, the Cognitive and the Epistemic Rhetoric – which explicitly address knowledge issues.

1. Introduction

In the so-called knowledge society, its definitory issue – knowledge – is intensely studied. The linguistic, discursive and rhetorical aspects of accessing, modeling, representing and communicating knowledge often overlap. In this context, it is interesting to examine the status of rhetoric. The polysemy of the word ‘rhetoric’ provokes sometimes the error of equivocation between the object-level of practice and the meta-level of its theorization. This linguistic problem reveals also the conceptual one: what kind of knowledge is subsumed under the term ‘rhetoric’? Is it (and should it be) only tacit knowledge that manifests as a skill? Or, in spite of the objections formulated since antiquity, can it (and should it) be also a full-blown discipline of study? If so, how is it articulated internally? What constitutes its peculiarity, with respect to the neighboring areas of research, such as Discourse Analysis?

For the sake of clarity, in order to avoid the above-mentioned error of equivocation, a graphical convention is adopted: ‘rhetoric,’ with minuscule, refers to the practice of persuasive communication, while...

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