Not Just Rhetoric: Recovering Dialectic's Counterpart for a Liberal Education
Recently, many American academics have called for new educational practices that will equip students for active citizenship in a democracy. For instance, concerning reform in liberal education at American universities, Martha Nussbaum has claimed that "[w]e have not produced truly free citizens in the Socratic sense unless we have produced people who can reason for themselves and argue well, who understand the difference between a logically valid and a logically invalid argument, who can distinguish between the logical form of an argument and the truth of its premises." Undoubtedly, logical reasoning and argument are essential elements of a liberal education for participatory democracy. Yet unless students are taught rhetoric, are shown how language itself, including logical argument, bears ideology, often hegemonic ideologies, then they are destined to remain enslaved to dominant modes of thought and action. In this paper, I propose to show how rhetoric, the counterpart to dialectic according to Aristotle, can help us achieve studia liberalia, a truly free and unbiased education for all students.
Keywords: Rhetoric, Rhetorical theory, Liberal education for democracy, Language and ideology, Argument
Prof. Kermit E. Campbell
Asst. Prof. of Rhetoric and Writing, The Department of Interdisciplinary Writing, Colgate University