Rhetoric: A Theory of Political Lie or The Essence of Politics? Reflections on the Thought of the Sophists, Hannah Arendt, and Jacques Derrida

Publication date: 04.12.2018

ORGANON, 2018, Volume 50, pp. 147 - 163



Cyprian Mielczarski
University of Warsaw
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This paper offers an outline of practical and theoretical relations between truth and rhetoric. A point of departure for considerations to follow are philosophical theories of the sophists, Plato, and Aristotle as well as modern commentators of political rhetoric. I argue that the predominantly rhetorical nature of contemporary culture is inextricably bound up with the controversial issue of political deception, its definition and function. I refer to the theories of Hannah Arendt and Jacques Derrida pertaining to the following issues: a relation between acting and lying, mass deception, and self–deception in totalitarian states. I further propose that classical ethics developing from Plato, Aristotle and Kant fails as a basis for the analysis of political and social processes in democratic societies. Key to grasping these processes is rhetoric – as an art of persuasion – which has nothing to do with the traditional true–false dichotomy.


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Information: ORGANON, 2018, pp. 147 - 163

Article type: Original research article


Polish: Rhetoric: A Theory of Political Lie or The Essence of Politics? Reflections on the Thought of the Sophists, Hannah Arendt, and Jacques Derrida


University of Warsaw

Published at: 04.12.2018

Article status: Open

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