chapter  2
39 Pages

Interpreting the Analects: Need to address rhetorical invention

So far, I have argued that rhetoric in the Aristotelian tradition has an inventive dimension, a dynamic dimension that makes rhetorical activities part of the human process to inquire into the truths of things. What I will discuss in the final three chapters is how Confucius’ thinking and teaching are similarly and rhetorically inventive and how this basic similarity compels us to clarify our understanding of the differences between Aristotle’s and Confucius’ rhetorical thinking and teaching. As mentioned in the Introduction, however, rhetorical invention is not some obscure part of Western rhetoric that contradicts everything we ordinarily know about rhetoric, in particular the quickness of thought and word. Therefore, before I compare and contrast the two kinds of rhetorical thinking regarding invention, I would like to address in this chapter how according to the common as well as the inventive view of rhetoric, Confucius’ thinking is in fact rhetorical. It is important to demystify Confucius’ teaching in relation to rhetoric because, of course, passages from the Analects should always be read in the context of its writing and in the larger context of history. More importantly, however, I would like to show in the second part of this chapter how many in Confucian studies may have dismissed too quickly the rhetorical dimension of Confucius’ thinking and teaching and yet how comparative Confucian studies may in fact be advanced by our deeper understanding of the rhetorical dimension of Confucius’ teaching.