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Amanda Anderson. Many of our ebooks are available through library electronic resources including these platforms:. How do the ways we argue represent a practical philosophy or a way of life? Are concepts of character and ethos pertinent to our understanding of academic debate? In this book, Amanda Anderson analyzes arguments in literary, cultural, and political theory, with special attention to the ways in which theorists understand ideals of critical distance, forms of subjective experience, and the determinants of belief and practice.
This is due to her focus, to be fair: the theoretical assumptions of literary theorists. But let me discuss her theoretical achievement. Parts I and II are fascinating. To develop her case, she examines the relationship between epistemological realism and ethical norms. For Anderson, what is missing in both bureaucratic rationality and identity politics is virtue. Anderson argues that the late Foucault argued for ethos , Habermas apparently for logos alone, but she then shows that Habermas too believes in ethos , the ethos of argument—that is, a habit, in theory and in practice, of rational argument open to its own limitations as it aspires to a true universalism.
Through its political culture of democratic debate and its legal one of constitutional law, modern liberalism offers the best hope for a multicultural America in a globalized world, and its central virtue should be the ethos of argument.
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She concludes,. The process of argument is what enables the very act of pluralist self-clarification to occur, and the society in question must cultivate an ethos of argument if it is to meet the ongoing challenges of its political re constitution.
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One would like to know how Anderson would respond to moments when argument is impossible—when violence thwarts proceduralism—but should Anderson persuade contemporary literary theorists to rethink their suspicion of reason, she will have provided an important service to us all. Much of her argument is indeed persuasive, yet not completely so to this reader because she neglects the study of ethos in the art of rhetoric.
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She does draw upon the Aristotelian ethical tradition, but she never refers to the Aristotelian rhetorical tradition, which is a surprising omission since the relationship between virtuous character and true argument in the service of the good in deliberative rhetoric, the just in judicial, and the noble in epideictic is perhaps his central interest there.
As well, the Rhetoric would have given her the understanding of emotion or pathos she mentions as a good, yet does not discuss in any detail. Habermasian liberals might be tempted to neglect the rhetorical tradition since, as Anderson explains, Habermas is critical of civic republicanism—the child of humanism and rhetoric in the early modern period. They should resist the temptation in order to cure liberal proceduralism of potentially inhumane tendencies; after all, procedures without persons do not necessarily lead to justice. It is rare to read so intelligent and thought-provoking a book as this.
We are invited to rethink the premises of contemporary theory in a manner that is invigorating and eye-opening.
Anderson's own incisive contribution to the culture of argument will surely change the way many people think. Vigorously and with vim, if Amanda Anderson's new book is any indication. Anderson worries that the poststructuralist critique of reason, together with identity politics' sociological reductionism, threatens to undermine our capacity to argue, but she puts the lie to her own concern in this well-argued book. And she gives her readers much to argue with. We should all rise to her challenge and respond to this book in ways that participate in, extend, and dare I say it?
Acknowledgments ix Introduction 1 Part I. Du kanske gillar.