Rhetoric as Critique: Towards a Rhetorical Philosophy

Gerald Posselt, Andreas Hetzel

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed


While philosophy has been defined as a critical endeavour since Plato, the critical potential of rhetoric has been mostly overlooked. In recent years, critique itself – as a means of enlightenment and emancipation – has come under attack. While there have been various attempts to renew and strengthen critical theory and practice, rhetoric has not yet played a part in these attempts. Addressing this lacuna, the article argues that rhetoric can function as a critical force within philosophy. The rhetorical perspective confronts the claim to rational discourse and universal knowledge with the contingency of philosophical languages, means of representation, and social practices. Moreover, it allows us to think of critique as an activity of a subject that is at the same time constituted and transformed by it. This opens up the possibility of a rhetorical philosophizing that meets its critical standards by taking into account both the conditions of its own speaking and what it must exclude as its ‘other’ in order to function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-61
Number of pages21
JournalTheory, Culture & Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 603107 Critique of ideology
  • 602041 Rhetoric
  • 603113 Philosophy


  • critical theory
  • critique
  • genealogy
  • philosophy
  • practice
  • rhetoric
  • social criticism
  • subjectivity


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