The Wiles of Argument

Protodeliberation and heroic prudence in Homer’s Odyssey
  • G. Thomas Goodnight
Part of the Argumentation Library book series (ARGA, volume 8)


“Rhetoric, in the most general sense, is the energy inherent in emotion and thought, transmitted through a system of signs, including language, to others to influence their decisions or actions” (Kennedy, 1991, 7). In Rhetoric 1.3 Aristotle identifies a powerful form of advancing interests, political deliberation. Such argumentation is directed toward “future action in best interests of a state” (7). Aristotle believes that this form of discourse has a distinctive temporal quality, which “for the deliberative speaker [is] the future (for whether exhorting or dissuading he advises about future events).” A rhetor connects present to future prudentially through weighing excess and deficiency of alternatives. Public policy is tested by estimating its future consequences for advantage and justice. Similarly, personal decisions of “what ought to be done or not to be done,” he tells us in the Nichomachean Ethics, may be so informed by practical reasoning (Ross, 1988/1925, vi. 10). Whether public or private, all deliberation is “reasoning involved in choice,” “a kind of seeking — into what action both is possible in the circumstance and will lead to the goal in question” (Bostock, 2000, 79).


Sexual Politics Political Deliberation Nichomachean Ethic Rocky Coast Line Comic Epic 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

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  • G. Thomas Goodnight

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