Hobbes, desire, and the democratization of rhetoric

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This article considers the modern melding of rhetoric and democracy by looking at the approach to rhetoric in the early-modern figure Thomas Hobbes. While other scholars have considered Hobbes's approach to rhetoric in terms of humanistic, Ramistic, and Aristotelian influences, I look at it in light of the psychagogic tradition of rhetoric still active in the Renaissance. Reading Hobbes in light of the psychagogic tradition makes his approach to rhetoric less equivocal or contradictory than is often supposed, even as it helps us see in Hobbes's work a concerted effort to democratize rhetoric. I conclude that the real tension Hobbes presents us with is not found in his approach to rhetoric, which is relatively consistent, but rather in what his work suggests about the tensions of a democratized rhetoric.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalAdvances in the History of Rhetoric
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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