Emotions in Rhetoric. From Technical to Generalized Pathos

Rhetoric and Political Communication

Carsten Madsen

Aarhus University, Denmark

E-mail: retcm@cc.au.dk

Marie Lund

Aarhus University, Denmark

E-mail: retml@cc.au.dk

Abstract: Parting from the rationalist tendency to confine emotions to the instrumentality of strategic or technical interpretations of pathos, this article explores a more comprehensive range of emotions involved in rhetorical negotiations as well as in the intricate interrelation between emotion and reason. Drawing on insights from philosophical psychology, we discuss Aristotle’s understanding of diathesis, the mental predisposition of the rhetorical audience, in the light of Heidegger’s interpretation of Aristotelian pathos as Befindlichkeit. We propose a distinction between two forms of pathos: a technical and instrumental form, which limits the emotional effects of rhetoric to the mental state of mind of the audience, and a generalized form of pathos, which includes emotional phenomena outside of technical pathos.

Keywordspathos, emotions, phenomenology, Aristotle, Heidegger.

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