The Reason/Passion Binary Unbound: Condit’s Views Toward Chaïm Perelman’s Egalitarian Rhetoric

Both Western and Eastern philosophy embrace dialectic binaries concerning human understanding and experience. Sometimes I think this is the root reason that all human beings are equal and think the same. I did little investigation on Eastern criticism of the binary opposites, but I know from what I read that there is not so much reevaluation of that issue. However, I saw more and more people criticizing this standard in their papers in our field. In my humble opinion, I think Western syllogism really helps a lot in Western train of thoughts and the Western logic, which we do not have traditionally but are increasingly using owing to the learning of Western science and democracy.

Condit’s piece reminds of so much about the differences and similarities between traditional Chinese and Western philosophies, for we have a relatively emotional rather than rational logic or rhetorical system. This is probably why traditionally, we tend to perceive the world more by experience than by epistemology. Nevertheless, since we started to learn from science and democracy from the West, the situation changed a lot, if not from the root.

Condit thinks that Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca prefer to transcend the reason/passion binary into an integrated combination of rhetoric that would seek for the good of all human beings(102, 103, 109). I really love this idea of seeking for common ground although intersubjectivities (100) exist. Perelman’s ideal is even close to Heidegger’s views of existentialism and phenomenology. Condit’s suggestion that we “remind ourselves that no social construction is ‘objective’ or ‘certain’ or founded unassailable, unchangeable verities”(108) is reasonable to follow from the perspective of ethics. From a classical rhetorical view, only upright rhetoricians are good rhetoricians because they can bring good to the society. However, human beings have both good and bad emotions, and that’s why reason is needed to enforce laws and regulations. Condit’s idea that we need not  “the highest capacity”—”formal logic”(109), but positive emotion—love and care(106), to improve the entire human condition further illustrates why we have to take both into consideration in a genuine and effective rhetoric.

After writing all this stuff, I just remembered some of the works I read and watched. Everything seems the same, people are making efforts to break away from some old and maybe false ideas, and are indeed advancing to a better rhetoric that is more considerable, democratic, and even humane.

This is my first impression on the Condit piece. Hope I can get some inspirations on his ideas on argumentation tomorrow. I am still thinking about it. And, I have to go back to Burke again! See you tomorrow everyone!


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