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Beyond Words

Pictures, Parables, Paradoxes


Edited By András Benedek and Kristóf Nyíri

Human thinking depends not only on words but also on visual imagery. Visual argumentation directly exploits the logic of the pictorial, while verbal arguments, too, draw on figurative language, and thus ultimately on images. In the centuries of handwritten documents and the printed book, our educational culture has been a predominantly verbal one. Today the challenge of the pictorial is explicit and conspicuous. In the digital world, we are experiencing an unprecedented wealth of images, animations and videos. But how should visual content be combined with traditional texts? This volume strives to present a broad humanities background showing how going beyond the word was always an issue in, and by now has become an inevitable challenge to, pedagogy and philosophy.
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Ingenious Rhetoric: The Visual Secret of Rhetoricality


Petra Aczél

Ingenious Rhetoric:

The Visual Secret of Rhetoricality1

“… the possession of sight is also better than the possession of hearing for one who wishes to praise.”2

“If a picture paints a thousand wordsThen why can’t I paint you?The words will never showThe you I’ve come to know.”3


Rhetoric, the ancient faculty of social communication, has been in constant struggles for centuries if not for millennia. Being based on the contingency of human relations and dynamics it has fought to overcome the reoccurring negative philosophical-academical, political and social considerations attached to it from the very beginning. Born as conflictuous it has never ceased to generate conflicts – and to ease them at the same time. Rhetoric survived its own turbulent history just to be at hand when something is to be labelled pejoratively, when empty, blurred or cheating communication is meant. Academics and laymen have relentlessly attacked its “irrational” and “irresponsible” persuasiveness. Narrowed down to flowery language and classified as the study of tropes,4 it has diminished from the landscape of “serious thought”. Deprived of its original cultural ideal of the orator ← 165 | 166 → as a polymath, its place in functionally differentiated societies has dramatically shriven to the wooden language of political manoeuvres. As an outcast academic faculty and a questioned style in democracies, its legacy has apparently lessened to refer powerfully to the scientific, social and public sphere.

Or has...

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