Chapter

A Rhetorical History of Truth

in The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780226409542
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226409566 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226409566.003.0003
A Rhetorical History of Truth

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This chapter examines a slightly earlier moment in the history of truth, the most famous subjectivist solution to problems of knowledge: Descartes' criteria of clarity and distinctness. For Descartes, neither creating consent among individuals nor following standardized rules of inference and deduction could secure knowledge. Only properly cultivated individuals, people who have engaged in the set of exercises necessary to recognize the clear and distinct knowledge that was in principle available to all, could claim to possess knowledge. This history of truth focuses on rhetoric. Scholars of classical and Renaissance rhetoric have taken great pains to separate rhetoric from sophistry, to show that rhetoric need not be antithetical to speaking truly. The chapter shows one way in which rhetoric and its exercises came to provide standards and practices for defining truth itself.

Keywords: Descartes; knowledge; subjectivism; rhetoric

Chapter.  14404 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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