Communication and Rhetorical Studies
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Calvin L. Troup
Richard H. Thames
American Revolution, Aristotle, common sense, John Adams, rhetoric, Scottish School of Common Sense
What are the rhetorical and philosophical implications of common sense in colonial America during the time immediately preceding, during, and following the American Revolution? A study of seminal texts from the Classical era, the Enlightenment, and the American Revolution will reveal the uses of common sense as rhetorical invention in each historical period. This study will also identify the various philosophies of common sense at play in the second half of the 18th century in order to better understand their influence upon the construction of early American rhetoric. While segments of postmodern rhetorical theories challenge or reject the presuppositions of common sense philosophy, this study will investigate ways in which rhetoric divorced from the resources of common sense places the prospect for rhetorical invention at risk. By investigating various philosophies of common sense articulated and acted upon by Americans during the Revolutionary era, I will explore the viability of common sense approaches to contemporary notions of rhetorical invention. These principles, from the Classical and Enlightenment common sense traditions, are cultivated from a common sense philosophy that is grounded in Aristotelian and Enlightenment scholarship. Such scholarship assumes specific first principles of common sense that create a forum for multiple and interrelated common senses.
Cianciola, J. (2005). The Rhetoric and Philosophy of Early American Discourse 1767-1801: Toward a Theory of Common Sense (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/409