StarteKapitelPerelman Interpreted in the Shadow of al-Hurayfish

Perelman Interpreted in the Shadow of al-Hurayfish

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(eKapitel) Perelman contributed to the rehabilitation of rhetoric as a serious subject in the latter decades of the twentieth century, his rehabilitation comes at the price of a certain bias towards ‘dialectics’ that tends to turn his work into something

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Philip Halldén, Lund University

The so-called ‘New Rhetoric’ associated with Chaïm Perelman (1912-1984) has exerted a significant influence in the field of contemporary rhetorical ­studies, and continues to do so today. But whereas Perelman contributed to the rehabilitation of rhetoric as a serious subject in the latter decades of the twentieth century, this rehabilitation comes at the price of a certain bias towards ‘dialectics’ that tends to turn his work into something other than simply an approach to rhetoric. In the following essay, this problem is discussed with special reference to a collection of sermons attributed to a four­teenth-century Muslim preacher known as al-Hurayfish. One purpose is to provide an introduction to this relatively unknown collection of medieval Muslim sermons and its ascribed author; another is to discuss the extent to which the ‘New Rhetoric’ might be helpful as an analytical tool in ap­proaching this kind of religious oratory or preaching. The discussion con­cludes with a modest critique of the promises and expectations of the ‘New Rhetoric’, as well as an open question regarding whether religious oratory of the kind represented here by al-Hurayfish is, after all, a suitable object of inquiry within the field of rhetorical studies.

Philip Halldén (2011) remarks

The present text is a revised version of an article originally published in Swedish in Rhetorica Scandinavica, No. 39 (2006) based on a research project supported by The Swedish Research Council. The passages concerning the identity of the preacher Shu‘ayb al-Hurayfısh and the environment in which he is supposed to have lived and worked have been somewhat expanded. A few references have also been added and I have reformulated some points in my critique of Perelman.

About this article

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About Philip Halldén

con infoPhilip Halldén is a Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities Research Fellow, supported by a grant from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg’s Foundation.

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