Humanist Controversies: The Rhetorical Humanism of Ernesto Grassi and Michael Leff

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This article discusses two twentieth-century examples of humanist controversies in order to demonstrate some rhetorical paths of thought involved in developing and securing rhetorical humanism within philosophy and rhetorical studies. The article begins with Martin Heidegger's antihumanist provocation and examines Ernesto Grassi's response in his revisionist interpretation of a nonmetaphysical Renaissance humanism. Next it takes up the post-Heideggerian moment of late twentieth-century postmodern critiques, including attacks on humanist foundationalism and essentialist notions of agency, and compares Grassi's defense of rhetorical humanism within Continental philosophy to Michael Leff's reinterpretation of Ciceronian humanism within communication studies. Both Grassi and Leff propose a rhetorical humanist alternative to Heidegger's and postmodernism's philosophical antihumanism. These two rhetoricians demonstrate an interpretive power and a rhetorical creativity that not only revitalize rhetorical humanism in the present age but also provide valuable resources for its extension into the future.


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Recommended Citation

Mailloux, Steven. “Humanist Controversies: The Rhetorical Humanism of Ernesto Grassi and Michael Leff.” Philosophy and Rhetoric, 45 (2012): 134-47.