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Preface This study originated far from Descartes in my efforts to understand what eighteenth-century writers meant when they invoked le coeur et l'esprit to account for persuasion. My inquiry into the role of the heart and the mind led back to how Cartesian psychology and physiology came to be adapted in seventeenthcentury rhetorical thought. In the case of France's two most illustrious philosophers of the seventeenth century, the approach I adopt is largely reconstructive . While both Descartes and Malebranche wrote short texts dealing specifically with the theory of eloquence, rhetoric was a topic on which neither commented extensively with all the rigor and method he was capable of bringing to an issue. My task involves situating their rather briefdirect comments on rhetorical issues in the context of their vision of human nature. In chapter 2, I show how Descartes considered the rhetorical tradition dating from antiquity irrelevant to his project of winning converts to his thought by comparing him to a fellow modernist , Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac, who sought to adapt the humanist tradition to the emerging culture of the honnete homme. In chapter 3, I analyze the rhetorical theory that can be generated from Descartes' notion of persuasion when it is combined with his psychophysiology of attention. My discussion of Arnauld and Nicole in chapter 4 serves as a link between Descartes and subsequent Augustinians such as Malebranche and Lamy. ·Because of their concern for method, the Port-Royalists set as one of the principal goals of their Logique de Port-Royal the task of neutralizing the erroneous judgments induced by false eloquence. Such showy eloquence weakens the mind's capacity for attention by seducing it with the sense impressions that have bedazzled the mind since the Fall. However, their amalgam of Descartes and Augustine contains the seeds of a more positive view of eloquence. Their concepts of accessory ideas and of vivacity go beyond Descartes' sketchy linguistic comzx x Preface ments to formulate a theory of the figures that Lamy exploits to full advantage. In chapter 5, I examine Malebranche, who is best known for his denunciation of eloquence as a contagion. He exploits Cartesian psychophysiology to show how the imaginations of weak-minded individuals are infected by the appeal to the senses made by vigorous speakers. Imitation replaces judgment; the passions contaminate reason. However, this rhetoric of distraction, while better known, is only a part of Malebranche's account of persuasion . Combining Descartes and Augustine, he elaborates a notion of attention as mental prayer in which the senses and passions playa legitimate role. Furthermore, he invokes the concept of the Word made flesh in the Incarnation to justify an eloquence in which the corporal leads to the spiritual. In chapter 6, I deal with Lamy, who produced the most comprehensive rhetorical treatise written by an advocate of the new philosophy, and whose text combines the humanist tradition with Cartesian science. Lamy uses Cartesian psychophysiology to define rhetoric broadly as the transmission of the speaker's thoughts and emotions in his widely influential La Rhetorique ou l'art de parler, which he constantly reworked between its initial publication in 1675 and his death in 1715. Within this art of speaking he reserves a space for eloquence with its own legitimate forms of proofand vivid style alongside geometric or philosophic discourse. His eloquence corresponds in many ways to Pascal's art of pleasing (art d'agreer), but whereas Pascal had despaired of fixing rules for winning over the fallen will, Lamy is confident that the new philosophy provides a knowledge of the heart sufficient to found a science of persuasion. I am responsible for all translations from French and Latin. For modern commentators I cite the French text, although only the English translation is given. For seventeenth-century writers, the original French with modernized spelling follows the English translation. In the case of works by Descartes that were written in Latin but not translated by him or by some authorized representative (e.g., the Regulae), I append the original Latin text. My thanks go to Emily Carr, Elaine Crawford, and Dale Hoyt who read portions of the manuscript. I am especially indebted to two colleagues, Ralph Albanese,jr. PTe/ace Xl and Dennis Bormann, for their encouragement and willingnesss to share their command of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature and rhetorical theory. Their critiques and thoughtful reading of the manuscript have been invaluable. I am grateful to the Rev. Roger J. Bunday for his willingness...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780809386482
Print ISBN
9780809329007
MARC Record
OCLC
42329782
Pages
232
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
N
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