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Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 25, Issue 1, Fall 2020

Simon Lambek
Pages 57-80

Nietzsche’s Rhetoric: Dissonance and Reception

This article presents a reading of Nietzsche’s use of rhetoric as inseparable from his philosophical project. I provide an exegesis of Nietzsche’s own reflections on rhetoric and consider its actual deployment, arguing that Nietzsche’s rhetoric is often deliberately dissonant and oriented toward facilitating receptive effects. The aim, I suggest, is to shift politics of possibility—to alter what can and cannot be done and said politically. Dissonant rhetoric, rhetoric that marries aesthetic attunement with affective turbulence, helps to accomplish this end by shaping the way that rhetoric is received by audiences. I conclude by suggesting that Nietzsche’s rhetoric has implications for contemporary theory, shifting how we might view critical political engagement in the public sphere. Understood in this way, Nietzsche’s rhetoric provides a perhaps surprising model for a critically robust form of rhetoric.

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