Identifying and Mapping Issues, Theories, & Research in Asian/American Rhetoric(s): An Annotated Bibliography

The Use of Eloquence

Posted in Asian Rhetoric(s) by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Xu, George Q. “The Use of Eloquence.” Rhetoric Before and Beyond the Greeks. Lipson, Carol and Roberta A. Binkley, eds. Albany: SUNY P, 2004.

Xu examines the notion of “eloquence”–and I think this choice of word purposeful–in the classical Chinese context, explaining, “Ironically, and perhaps uniquely, however, verbal eloquence was not valorized by classical Chinese thinkers, and on the contrary the views found in their texts reveal a general mistrust of it, a sentiment common to almost all major schools of thought despite their fundamental philosophical differences, but it is most conspicuously and extensively reflected in Confucian texts” (115). Xu goes on providing sociopolitical historical context as well as implications for the Confucian position against eloquence: “their condemnations had the effect of silencing dissident views” (116). He also contends that this attitude has had long-lasting influence in Chinese culture, for example in perpetuating certain conceptions of hierarchy and seniority, and in silencing views contrary to the government endorsed doctrine: “In contemporary China, theoretically Marxism has supplanted Confucianism for more than half a century, but the Confucian tenet remains influential…” (125) Xu refers to the silencing effects of a rhetoric of “patriotism”, as it is defined by certain groups. He concludes, saying that “Confucian antipathy toward eloquence has deeply penetrated into the collective consciousness of the Chinese people…it has been so inextricably embedded in Chinese culture that a proper understanding of Chinese rhetoric would be all but impossible without taking it into full account” (125).

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Confucian Silence and Remonstration: A Basis for Deliberation?

Posted in Asian Rhetoric(s) by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Lyon, Arabella. “Confucian Silence and Remonstration: A Basis for Deliberation?” Rhetoric Before and Beyond the Greeks. Lipson, Carol and Roberta A. Binkley, eds. Albany: SUNY P, 2004.

To “place Confucius within a defined rhetorical tradition and to place Confucius in twenty-first century rhetoric,” Lyon examines remonstration and silence in Lunyu (The Analects) as they relate to deliberation and democracy (131-2). Lyon uses deliberative rhetoric “with its historical connections to democracy… [as] a lens for understanding Confucian rhetoric and its relationship to current democratic and civil rights movements in Asia” (131).  Lyon seems to focus on positive attributes of “Confucian silence,” (at least in contrast to George Xu) which she says, “is valued as…a positive tool, for building relationships; it works through emphasizing the worth of action, the character of the silent one, and the wisdom of not engaging what cannot be changed” (137). “Here, silence is not to be viewed as a “lack,” but it rather parallels action, which is positioned in contrast to glib speech. “Silence can indicate questions, promises, denial, warning, threats, insult, requests, command, deference, and intimacy” (137).  Furthermore, Confucian silence, in pedagogical contexts, “obliges students to find their own way” (138).

Tao Te Ching

Posted in Uncategorized by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Lau, D.C., trans. Tao Te Ching. New York: Penguin, 1964.

This seminal work in Ancient Chinese Philosophy (and rhetoric) has much relevance for the cultural development in all of the East Asian countries. Beautifully poetic in style, Lao Tzu builds a philosophy for “the way,” communication and living that emphasizes namelessness, silence, inaction, and reciprocity. However, these concepts are oftentimes misconstrued under the lens of “the West”.