StarteKapitelThe Focal Point of Rhetoric

The Focal Point of Rhetoric

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(eKapitel) Whereas rhetoric’s humanistic principle and view of language belongs to the epistemological sphere; the principle of trustworthiness establishes the passage to the acting sphere, where the principles of skills and orality belong. The masterful

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Jørgen Fafner, Copenhagen University

Whereas rhetoric’s humanistic principle and view of language belongs to the epistemological sphere; the principle of trustworthiness establishes the passage to the acting sphere, where the principles of skills and orality belong. The masterful feature of Jørgen Fafners text is that every principle is derived from the previous, whereby the article confirms its own main point: that knowledge and acting – speech and thought, content and form – are interconnected.

Jørgen Fafner (2011) remarks by Jens E. Kjeldsen

The pioneer of rhetorical research in Scandinavia is Jørgen Fafner (1925–2005). He was the first Scandinavian Professor of Rhetoric in recent history and the primus motor in the establishing of rhetoric as a study and research field at the University of Copenhagen in the 1970s.
His theoretical introduction, Retorik. Klassisk og moderne [Rhetoric. Classical and Modern, 1977], and his historical account of the rhetorical tradition in Western Europe Tanke og tale [Thought and Speech, 1982], has been use by scholars and students in all three Scandinavian Countries.
His views on rhetoric as a study and research discipline are not only found in these books, but also in a large number of articles, which all deal with the issue of “What is rhetoric?” Probably the most important of these is the text published in this volume: “The Focal Point of Rhetoric”.
In his introduction to its republication in RhS in 1997, editor Kjell Jarner Rasmussen wrote:
“Fafner uses five topoi: the humanistic principle, view of language, trustworthiness, practical skills, orality. It is these principles, which like rays of light meet in and constitute the focal point of rhetoric. […] Together these fundamental principles bridge the gap between the epistemological and acting spheres of rhetoric. Whereas rhetoric’s humanistic principle and view of language belongs to the epistemological sphere; the principle of trustworthiness establishes the passage to the acting sphere, where the principles of skills and orality belong. The masterful feature of the text is that every principle is derived from the previous, whereby the article confirms its own main point: that knowledge and acting – speech and thought, content and form – are interconnected. The whole – genuine – rhetoric is thus more than the sum of its parts. Or in the words of the author himself: “If only one of these principles is violated, the entire idea of a rhetorical discipline being sole master of its academic goals and methods becomes void.”

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About Jørgen Fafner

con infoJørgen Fafner (1925-2005) was the pioneer of rhetorical research in Scandinavia. At University of Copenhagen he was the first Professor of Rhetoric in recent Scandinavian history (1970-1995). He was the primus motor in the establishing of rhetoric as a study and research field in the 1970s.

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