Campbell on the passions: A rereading of the philosophy of rhetoric

Arthur E. Walzer

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7 Scopus citations


Campbell's reputation has suffered from modem conceptions that assume Aristotle's Rhetoric as the paradigm for rhetorical theory and from modern commitments to epistemic and dialogic rhetorics. A focus on the place of the passions and emotional appeal in Campbell's Philosophy of Rhetoric (POR) brings his achievement more clearly into view. The "sentiments, passions, dispositions," three key terms in Campbell's definition of the "grand art of communication," are an index to his consideration of non-rational response, a consideration informed by a discussion of "the passions" in the moral psychology of the period and that culminates in Book II of Hume's Treatise on Human Nature. What emerges when POR is seen from this perspective has significance for our understanding of the relationship between reason and passion in persuasion and for our appreciation of POR, which is arguably the most coherent conception of rhetoric that we have.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-85
Number of pages1
JournalQuarterly Journal of Speech
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1999


  • Eighteenth-century rhetoric
  • George Campbell
  • Resemblance theory
  • The passions and reason
  • Vivacity

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