We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Philosophy of Rhetoric

George Campbell. Edited by Lloyd F. Bitzer

Publication Year: 1988

Here, after a quarter century of additional study and reflection, Bitzer presents a new critical edition of George Campbell’s classic.

Bitzer provides a more complete review and assessment of Campbell’s work, giving particular emphasis to Campbell’s theological views, which he demonstrates played an important part in Campbell’s overall view of reasoning, feeling, and moral and religious truth.

The Rhetoric is widely regarded as the most important statement of a theory of rhetoric produced in the 18th century. Its importance lies, in part, in the fact that the theory is informed by the leading assumptions and themes of the Scottish Enlightenment—the prevailing empiricism, the theory of the association of ideas, the effort to explain natural phenomena by reference to principles and processes of human nature. Campbell’s work engages such themes in an attempt to formulate a universal theory of human communication.

Campbell attempts to develop his theory by discovering deep principles in human nature that account for all instances and kinds of human communication. He seeks to derive all communication principles and processes empirically. In addition, all statements in discourse that have to do with matters of fact and human affairs are likewise to be empirically derived. Thus, his theory of rhetoric is vastly wider than, and different from, such classical theories as those proposed by Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian, whose theories focused on discourse related to civic affairs.

Bitzer shows that, by attempting to elaborate a general theory of rhetoric through empirical procedures, Campbell’s project reveals the limitations of his method. He cannot ground all statements empirically and it is at this point that his theological position comes into play. Inspection of his religious views shows that God’s design of human nature, and God’s revelations to humankind, make moral and spiritual truths known and quite secure to human beings, although not empirically.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (52.9 KB)
p. 1-1

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (311.0 KB)
pp. 2-5


pdf iconDownload PDF (399.5 KB)
pp. v-vi

read more

Editor's Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF (18.9 MB)
pp. vii-li

THIS VOLUME makes available the complete text of George Campbell's The Philosophy of Rhetoric, which George Saintsbury called "the most important treatise on the New Rhetoric that the eighteenth century produced."1 Campbell's Rhetoric was reprinted at least forty-two times after...

Editions of The Philosophy of Rhetoric

pdf iconDownload PDF (715.3 KB)
pp. liii-lv

Notes to the Present Edition: Corrections and Additions

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. lvii-lxi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.4 MB)
pp. lxv-lxviii

THERE are several reasons which have induced the Author of the following sheets to give the Public some account of their origin and progress, previously to their coming under its examination. They are a series of Essays closely connected with one another, and written on a subject, in the examination of which...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (3.6 MB)
pp. lxix-lxxvi

ALL art is founded in science, and the science is of little value which does not serve as a foundation to some beneficial art. On the most sublime of all sciences, theology and ethics, is built the most important of all arts, the art of living. The abstract mathematical sciences serve as a ground-work...

Book I. The Nature and Foundations of Eloquence.

pdf iconDownload PDF (315.4 KB)
pp. 1-78

read more

Chapter I: Eloquence

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.9 MB)
pp. 1-7

IN speaking there is always some end proposed, or some effect which the speaker intends to produce on the hearer. The word eloquence in its greatest latitude denotes, "That art or talent by which the discourse is adapted to its end...

read more

Chapter II: Of Wit, Humour, and Ridicule

pdf iconDownload PDF (7.7 MB)
pp. 8-27

This article, concerning eloquence in its largest acceptation, I cannot properly dismiss without making some observations on another genus of oratory, in many things similar to the former, but which is naturally suited to light and trivial matters. This also may be branched into three sorts, corresponding to those already...

read more

Chapter III: The Doctrine of the Preceding Chapter Defended

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.3 MB)
pp. 27-32

BEFORE I proceed to another topic, it will perhaps be thought proper to inquire how far the theory, now laid down and explained, coincides with the doctrines on this article to be found in the writings of philosophers and critics. Not that I think such inquiries and discussions always necessary...

read more

Chapter IV: Of the Relation which Eloquence Bears to Logic and to Grammar

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.6 MB)
pp. 32-35

IN contemplating a human creature, the most natural division of the subject is the common division into soul and body, or into the living principle of perception and of action, and that system of material organs by which the other receives information from without, and is enabled to exert its powers, both for its own...

read more

Chapter V: Of the different Sources of Evidence and the different Subjects to which they are respectively adapted

pdf iconDownload PDF (11.3 MB)
pp. 35-61

LOGICAL truth consisteth in the conformity of our conceptions to their archetypes in the nature of things. This conformity is perceived by the mind, either immediately on a bare attention to the ideas under review, or mediately by a comparison of these with other related ideas. Evidence...

read more

Chapter VI: Of the Nature and Use of the scholastic art of Syllogizing

pdf iconDownload PDF (3.9 MB)
pp. 61-70

HAVING in the preceding chapter endeavoured to trace the outlines of natural logic, perhaps with more minuteness than in such an inquiry as this was strictly necessary, it might appear strange to pass over in silence the dialectic of the schools; an art which, though now fallen into disrepute...

read more

Chapter VII: Of the Consideration which the Speaker ought to have of the Hearers as Men in general

pdf iconDownload PDF (10.1 MB)
pp. 71-94

RHETORIC, as was observed already, not only considers the subject, but also the hearers and the speaker.7 The hearers must be considered in a twofold view, as men in general, and as such men in particular. As men in general, it must...

read more

Chapter VIII: Of the Consideration which the Speaker ought to have of the Hearers, as such men in particular

pdf iconDownload PDF (661.1 KB)
pp. 95-96

IT was remarked in the beginning of the preceding chapter, that the hearers ought to be considered in a twofold view, as men in general, and as such men in particular. The first consideration I have despatched, I now enter on the second. When it is affirmed that the hearers are to be considered as...

read more

Chapter IX: Of the Consideration which the Speaker ought to have of Himself.

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 96-98

THE last consiueration I mentioned, is that which the speaker ought to have of himself. By this we are to understand, not that estimate of himself which is derived directly from consciousness or self-acquaintance, but that which is obtained reflexively from the opinion...

read more

Chapter X: The different kinds of public speaking in use among the moderns compared, with a view to their different advantages in respect of eloquence.

pdf iconDownload PDF (6.1 MB)
pp. 98-112

THE principal sorts of discourses which here demand our notice, and on which I intend to make some observations, are the three following: orations delivered at the bar, those pronounced in the senate, and those spoken from the pulpit. I do not make a separate article of the speeches delivered by judges...

read more

Chapter XI: Of the cause of Mat pleasure which we receive from objects or representations that excite pity and other painful feelings.

pdf iconDownload PDF (10.8 MB)
pp. 112-138

IT hath been observed already/ that without some gratification in hearing, the attention must inevitably flag. And it is manifest from experience that nothing tends more effectually to prevent this consequence, and keep our attention alive and vigorous, than the pathetic, which consists chiefly...

Book II. The Foundations and Essential Properties of Elocution

pdf iconDownload PDF (265.6 KB)
pp. 139-223

read more

Chapter 1: The Nature and Characters of the Use which gives Law to Language

pdf iconDownload PDF (5.1 MB)
pp. 139-151

ELOQUENCE hath always been considered, and very justly, as having a particular connexion with language. It is the intention of eloquence to convey our sentiments into the minds of others, in order to produce a certain effect upon them. Language is the only vehicle by...

read more

Chapter II: The nature and use of verbal Criticism, with its principal Canons.

pdf iconDownload PDF (7.6 MB)
pp. 151-169

THE first thing in elocution that claims our attention is purity; all its other qualities have their foundation in this. The great standard of purity is use, whose essential properties, as regarding language, have been considered and explained in the preceding chapter. But before I proceed to illustrate and specify the various offences against...

read more

Chapter III: Of Grammatical Purity

pdf iconDownload PDF (14.5 MB)
pp. 169-204

IT was remarked formerly, ~ that though the grammatical art bears much the same relation to the rhetorical, which the art of the mason bears to that of the architect, there is one very memorable difference between the two cases. In architecture it is not necessary that he who designs should execute...

read more

Chapter IV: Some Grammatical Doubts in regard to English Construction stated and examined.

pdf iconDownload PDF (4.4 MB)
pp. 204-214

BEFORE I dismiss this article altogether, it will not be amiss to consider a little some dubious points in construction, on which our critics appear not to be agreed. One of the most eminent of them makes this remark upon the neuter verbs: "A neuter verb cannot become a passive. In a neuter verb the agent and the object...

read more

Chapter V: Of the qualities of Style strictly rhetorical

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 214-216

PURITY, of which I have treated at some length in the two preceding chapters, may justly be denominated grammatical truth. It consisteth in the conformity of the expression to the sentiment which the speaker or the writer intends to convey by it, as moral truth consisteth in the conformity...

read more

Chapter VI: Of Perspicuity.

pdf iconDownload PDF (16.0 MB)
pp. 216-255

OF all the qualities above mentioned the first and most essential is perspicuity.9 Every speaker doth not propose to please the imagination, nor is every subject susceptible of those ornaments which conduce to this purpose. Much less is it the aim of every speech to agitate the passions. There are some occasions, therefore, on which...

read more

Chapter VII: What is the Cause that Nonsense so often escapes being detected, both by the Writer and by the Reader?

pdf iconDownload PDF (7.3 MB)
pp. 256-273

Before quitting the subject of perspicuity, it will not be amiss to inquire into the cause of this strange phenomenon; that even a man of discernment should write without meaning, and not be sensible that he hath no meaning; and that judicious people should read what...

read more

Chapter VIII: The extensive Usefulness of Perspicuity.

pdf iconDownload PDF (4.4 MB)
pp. 273-283

Having fully considered the nature of perspicuity, and the various ways in which the laws relating to it may be transgressed, I shall now inquire, whether to be able to transgress with dexterity in any of those ways, by speaking obscurely, ambiguously, or unintelligibly...

read more

Chapter IX: May there not be an Excess of Perspicuity?

pdf iconDownload PDF (755.5 KB)
pp. 283-284

I SHALL conclude this subject with inquiring whether it be possible that perspicuity should be carried to excess. It hath been said that too much of it has a tendency to cloy the reader, and, as it gives no play to the rational and active powers of the mind, will soon grow irksome through...

Book III. The Discriminating Properties of Elocution

pdf iconDownload PDF (274.6 KB)
pp. 299-376

read more

Chapter 1: Of Vivacity as depending on the Choice of Words.

pdf iconDownload PDF (18.7 MB)
pp. 299-333

HAVING discussed the subject of perspicuity, by which the discourse is fitted to inform the understanding, I come now to those qualities of style by which it is adapted to please the imagination, and consequently to awake and fix the attention. These I have already denominated vivacity and elegance...

read more

Chapter II: Of Vivacity as depending on the Number of the Words.

pdf iconDownload PDF (8.0 MB)
pp. 333-352

When I entered on the subject of vivacity,2 I observed that this quality of style might result either from a happy choice of words, from their number, or from their arrangement. The first I have already discussed, and shown how words may conduce to vivacity, not only from their sense, whether they be...

read more

Chapter III: Of Vivacity, as depending on the Arrangement of the Words.

pdf iconDownload PDF (13.1 MB)
pp. 353-384

HAVING already shown how far vivacity depends either on the words themselves, or on their number, I come now, lastly, to consider how it is effected by their arrangement. This, it must be owned, hath a very considerable influence in all languages, and yet there is not any thing which it is more difficult...

read more

Chapter IV: Of the Connectives employed in combining the Parts of a Sentence.

pdf iconDownload PDF (8.3 MB)
pp. 384-403

I AM very sensible that the remarks contained in the preceding chapter on the particular structure and the particular arrangement in sentences, whether simple or complex, which are most conducive to vivacity, however well these remarks are founded, and however much they may assist us in forming a judgment concerning...

read more

Chapter V: Of the Connectives employed in combining the Sentences in a Discourse.

pdf iconDownload PDF (5.3 MB)
pp. 403-415

IN the preceding chapter I have discussed what I had to offer on the manner of connecting the words, the clauses, and the members of a sentence. I intend in the present chapter to consider the various manners of connecting the sentences in a discourse, and to make some remarks on this subject, for the...


pdf iconDownload PDF (2.5 MB)
pp. 417-423

About the Author, Back Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (161.3 KB)
pp. 424-519

E-ISBN-13: 9780809382569
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809314188

Page Count: 504
Publication Year: 1988

Series Title: Landmarks in Rhetoric and Public Address

Research Areas


UPCC logo
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access