Janet Marie Atwill

Refiguring rhetoric as art: Aristotle’s concept of techne and the humanist paradigm

Janet Marie Atwill

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 1990 pp: 271
  • Advisor: Lauer, Janice M.
  • Source: DAI-A 53/05, p. 1506, Nov 1992
  • Subjects: Literature, Classical (0294); Philosophy (0422); History, Ancient (0579)
  • ProQuest Document Number:
  • ISBN:
  • UMI Number: AAT 9229076

Abstract:

    • This dissertation argues that the gradual suppression of the ancient concept of techne, or art, was inextricably tied to the rise of Western humanist ideology. In its earliest formulations, techne signified a transferable body of knowledge always implicated in and contingent upon structures of cultural and economic exchange. Thus, the type of social knowledge suggested by the ancient concept of techne posited a contingent, variably defined subject, in sharp contrast to the static knowing subject of the humanist paradigm, who assumed a position of epistemological power over an autonomous object of knowledge.
    • While this dissertation focuses in particular on Aristotle’s concept of rhetorical techne, identified with productive knowledge, it also traces the concept of techne from its earliest inscriptions in Hesiod, Aeschylus, the sophists, and Plato to more contemporary formulations in commentaries on Aristotle’s Rhetoric and in the postmodern theory of Pierre Bourdieu. This dissertation argues that the ancient concept of rhetorical art may provide a heuristic for reformulating both the subject and knowledge in the postmodern university.