Ralph Waldo Emerson's theory of rhetoric has been the subject of ongoing inquiry that has moved Emerson further and further outside a line of Platonic thinkers in order to make his discussion of rhetoric applicable to contemporary discussions about civic discourse and the public sphere. Such accounts, however, subtly undermine the complexity of Emerson's attempts to reconcile transcendentalism with democracy. Understanding Emerson as involved in a project to not only democratize language and rhetorical theory but also Plato, the representative of truth seeking and idealism, clarifies precisely how Emerson understands the power of rhetoric and philosophy to shape and enact democracy. Emerson was trying to find a place for Platonic idealism in the shaping of a young country, and in doing so, he reconfigured what might seem today to be irreconcilable dualities. For Emerson the split between the spiritual and the material world does not implicitly prioritize one domain over the other. Instead, Emerson negotiates the terrain between the worlds and suggests ultimately that language and action are means of straddling them and realizing real change in society. If ideals are in some way external in Emerson's metaphysics, they are no less accessible by every person who attends to his or her own experience in the world. Rhetoric, for Emerson, brings those poles together.
For over 40 years, Philosophy and Rhetoric has published some of the most influential articles on relations between philosophy and rhetoric. Topics include the connections between logic and rhetoric, the philosophical aspects of argumentation (including argumentation in philosophy itself), philosophical views on the nature of rhetoric among historical figures and during historical periods, philosophical analyses of the relation to rhetoric of other areas of human culture and thought, and psychological and sociological studies of rhetoric with a strong philosophical emphasis.
Part of the Pennsylvania State University and a division of the Penn State University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, Penn State University Press serves the University community, the citizens of Pennsylvania, and scholars worldwide by advancing scholarly communication in the core liberal arts disciplines of the humanities and social sciences. The Press unites with alumni, friends, faculty, and staff to chronicle the University's life and history. And as part of a land-grant and state-supported institution, the Press develops both scholarly and popular publications about Pennsylvania, all designed to foster a better understanding of the state's history, culture, and environment.