Inquiry Possibilities

in Rhetoric, Modality, Modernity

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226777481
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226777504 | DOI:
Inquiry Possibilities

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This chapter comments on the unique suitability of Robert Pippin's modernist narrative for explaining rhetoric's unique capacity for modernization; post-Kantian philosophy's work with conditions of possibility for knowing supports renewal of rhetorical habits of posing civil possibility. It has been argued that sociality and fluidity invest the “modern” efforts of Thomas Hobbes and Giovanni Battista Vico; the values accompany a general habit of their activity, articulating novel, or multiple possibilities. In contrast, when Pippin attributes to the Enlightenment a “new positivity” and claims it is “unable to articulate to itself its own possibility,” he is refining his definition of the subsequent modernity, asserting its amplified devotion to articulating possibility. Pippin is, in effect, making a case for modernity's readiness for rhetoric's interventions. Pippin redescribes Immanuel Kant's critical transformation in the strategies of Germanic, or Hegelian, idealism. For Pippin, rhetoric as hermeneutic is an inferior mode of inquiry; just so, Pippin's sense of the primacy of (idealist) philosophy perhaps explains his elision of C. S. Peirce's modernism as an example of an inferior American pragmatic philosophy.

Keywords: Robert Pippin; rhetoric; philosophy; Thomas Hobbes; Giovanni Battista Vico; modernism; C. S. Peirce; Immanuel Kant; inquiry; civil possibility

Chapter.  9285 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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