- Philosophy and Rhetoric:An Abbreviated History of an Evolving Identity
With this issue, Philosophy and Rhetoric begins its fortieth year of publication. As a milestone of longevity, it is both a mark of its youth and its maturity. Most disciplines have flagship journals with considerably longer spans of continuous publication, in some cases exceeding 100 years. Philosophy and Rhetoric, however, has no professional society as its sponsor. Its survival has and continues to rest on maintaining a level of intellectual excellence that attracts sufficient subscribers to make it viable. That creates an imperative to publish articles that both sustain a dialogue among an international audience with a focused set of concerns and engage intellectual issues that emerge from a dialogue among scholars who find the relationship between philosophy and rhetoric mutually informing. The intersections, new roads, and cul-de-sacs along the way have been discoveries among authors who often travel in different disciplinary company and write mainly to different disciplinary audiences, but who share in common the view that they cannot fully understand their disciplinary issues without taking their sometimes irreconcilable differences and/or their reciprocal inflections into account.
As the journal begins its fortieth year of publication, it seems fitting to look back at how it started and how it has changed over its course. I must admit that having been associated from its outset, publishing my first scholarly article in the first volume of P&R and serving in one editorial capacity or another since its second year of publication, a brief and selective account of how it started and how its path has continued to open new discursive arenas also seems an appropriate way for me to acknowledge its founders and contextualize the papers in this volume. Of course tracing the journal's path, in one respect, cannot help but fall short of the mark. The concerns and issues its authors have addressed are broad, technical, and fraught with disparate interpretations beyond the ken of any single person, not to mention the consequences of space limitations. Nevertheless, there are a few fixed moments along its historical path that offer a sense of how it has evolved and that are worth recording. [End Page 1]
Philosophy and Rhetoric was born from a small conference on philosophy and rhetoric held in 1963 under co-sponsorship by the Philosophy and the then Speech departments at Penn State University. The conference itself was the brainchild of the happy union of minds and spirits shared by Carroll Arnold and Henry Johnstone. Shortly after Arnold joined the Penn State faculty in 1961, he and Johnstone became interlocutors on their common passion for the study of argumentation, an enjoyment of intellectual give and take, and an afternoon martini shared among friends. Their bond lasted for the remainder of their lives—nearly forty years.
The journal's founding was one of three significant developments in the 1960s, the others being the Western world's experience of student unrest and rhetoric studies' appropriation of Kenneth Burke's dramatistic theory as paradigmatic, that altered the face of rhetoric studies and also opened philosophy to reconsider the dismissal of rhetoric initiated by the work of René Descartes and continued unabated, if at times challenged, into the middle of the twentieth century.1 The twentieth-century renaissance of rhetoric studies was a multidisciplinary phenomenon. It commenced with the exodus of public speaking teachers from English departments at the beginning of the century to found departments of speech; broadened its base by mid-century through the research of scholars of antiquity, American and British history, literature, political science, sociology, and speech; saw a return to prominence during the last quarter of the century in writing theory and instruction; and emerged by century's end in the form of new rhetorics that burgeoned as fruitful paradigms in intellectual and social histories, literary and social criticism, and a variety of theoretical works across the humanities and interpretive social sciences. This movement included revival of the ancient dialogue between philosophy and rhetoric that had lain moribund since the Enlightenment. This renewal of philosophy's discussion with rhetoric was particularly important.
From its inception as an area of inquiry at...