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Rhetoric, Discourse and Knowledge


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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Science and ethics in the knowledge society: A rhetorical perspective (Urszula Okulska)


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Urszula Okulska

University of Warsaw

Science and ethics in the knowledge society: A rhetorical perspective

Abstract: The chapter studies intercultural dialogue on the condition of modern scientific knowledge. Focusing on the letters of Pope John Paul II to academic circles, the author shows how the humanistic form of this exchange promotes the rhetorical construction of ethically ‘integrated’ communities. The chapter identifies various rhetorical strategies involved, such as inclusion, solidarity, or neutralization.

1. Introduction

Knowledge has always been taken as one of the many essential criteria in the assessment of the level of cultural development. In the time of the accelerated growth and extended scope of modern science, caused by the mediatization, technologization and specialization of social life, the question arises as to the quality, meaning and significance of knowledge thus attained for the general human condition in the age of Late Modernity (LM). Such issues are undertaken in this chapter, which investigates the ethics of the recent scientific endeavor from the perspective of the presence or absence in it of dialogic action, as the highest communicative faculty in the human vita activa (cf. Arendt 1972, 1998, 2003). As a form of human action in its discursive mode, dialogic action represents a fundamental measure of the quality of scientific life observed in the rhetorical elimination or constitution of the public world, which underlies its status quo. These processes are explored in a sample of John Paul II’s correspondence...

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