Chapter

“My Parts, My Title, and My Perfect Soul” Ingenuity, Apodeixis, and the Origins of Rhetorical Anthropology

Joel B. Altman

in The Improbability of Othello

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780226016108
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226016122 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226016122.003.0002
“My Parts, My Title, and My Perfect Soul” Ingenuity, Apodeixis, and the Origins of Rhetorical Anthropology

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It is in Iago and Othello that Shakespeare seems to have set in motion most intimately the complementary energies of rhetorical anthropology. Iago's uncanny ability to function in the interstices between paradigms has made him appear less than human to generations of readers and spectators. This chapter shows how the work of the Greek sophists Protagoras, Gorgias, and Isocrates yields the distinct outlines of an Iagian psychology. In Protagoras, for whom knowledge is only probable, we see a primitive rhetorical subject called into being through the fortuitous conjunctions of mind and world. In Gorgias's conviction that logos (speech) can convey only logos, not things, there emerges the rhetorical premise that human beings exist within an interpsychic circuit of language, influenced by peitho and apate (the persuasive force of words and the deceptive shape given them by speakers) and by kairos (the fit, the opportune), the apprehension of which enables one to impinge on another's mind at exactly the moment when it is disposed to heed what one says.

Keywords: rhetorical anthropology; Iago; Othello; Shakespeare; logos; language

Chapter.  9253 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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