restricted access Rhetoric: Essays in Invention and Ducovery (review)
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BOOK REVIEWS 151 nuanced and cannot adequately be discussed in this short note. But we can say that Haar repreatedly comes back to phrases such as "a latent sketchof artistic configurations " (196), and a "secret outline of forms" (216) when describing the earth (both in the artwork and the world of artistic existence) as the origin and substructure of human, linguistic existence. Though Haar finds ample support in Heidegger's writings , one is nevertheless led to wonder: What is the ontological status of this latent articulation immanent in earth? In what sense can earth be transepochal, ahistorical, if it contains such articulations to which the poet, artist, and thinker respond? How is the ahistorical/prelinguistic song from the earth to be compared to the historical/linguistic song about the earth? One must finally ask if the graceful and thoughtful prose Haar has given us is, as he hopes, a resonance of the former, or a spontaneous production of the latter. The success of Haar's insightful exposition of the ahistorical substructure of existence stands and falls on the answer to these questions. REGINALD LILLY Universityof New Hampshire Richard McKeon. Rhetoric: Essays in Invention and Ducovery. Edited with an Introduction by Mark Backman. Woodbridge, CT: Ox Bow Press, 1987. Pp. xxxii + 22o. $25.00. 'History of philosophy' is an ambiguous term. It has been applied to doxography, a history of doctrines apart from their systematic relations or context. It has been applied to rational reconstructions of what a thinker must have meant apart from whether the thinker ever said it and from the context that provides checks on possible interpretations, rational or not. And it has been applied to contextual interpretations, which set philosophers and philosophies in the context of the language, history, and culture that condition them. Richard McKeon practiced the history of philosophy (or of thought, a phrase he sometimes prefers) in a different way: in terms of the subject matters thinkers treat and the functions they try to perform under the rubric of philosophy (rhetoric, poetry, grammar, and so on). Thus it is a history of changing definitions and differing conceptions , and of the spread of intellectual devices and ideas from realm to realm and from age to age. McKeon's kind of history is based on the observation that the terms we use--the names of our arts and sciences and the concepts employed in them--are stable but ambiguous. Thus it might be called a semantic history. It is also based on the insight, explained in the concluding essay, "A Philosopher Meditates on Discovery," that the truth is one, though it can be expressed in many different ways. And his history is consciously intended to provide both theoretical clarifications and insights and practical guidance in the resolution of contemporary problems. McKeon's work has not been widely influential in philosophy, although he is considered a major figure in the recent "renaissance of rhetoric" to which this volume primarily directs itself. However, despite the title, the selection of articles reprinted, and the 152 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 28: I JANUARY ~99 o editor's emphasis on the term 'rhetoric' rather than 'philosophy', these essays can well be read--in roughly the reverse of their present order--as the discovery, illustration, and application of what McKeon calls his "new philosophy" (120). It is a philosophy built on the notions of"historical semantics" and "philosophic semantics" (218-20) and aiming to reunite philosophy and rhetoric, wisdom and eloquence, theory and practice. In the concluding essay, he describes his own intellectual development and the complex matrix of subject matters, methods, principles, and aims that can be used to characterize philosophic positions unambiguously despite their ambiguous use of common terms.' The system of historical semantics is illustrated by the two preceding essays. "Rhetoric in the Middle Ages," a tour de force of medieval scholarship and famous among medievalists and historians of rhetoric, shows how rhetoric affected not only rhetoricians, but also philosophers, theologians, and logicians from Augustine into the Renaissance. "Poetry and Philosophy in the Twelfth Century" presents the varying conceptions of the two disciplines and the oscillation in their relations from identity to antithesis. In "Symbols, Myths, and...