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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 30, Issue 2, 2002

Stephen Pain
Pages 755-771

An introduction to applied rhetoric

This paper is an introduction to the new field of biorhetorics. Biorhetorics is an applied form of rhetoric that evolved from the study of classical rhetoric, particularly Aristotelian. The author illustrates the stages of development necessary for the creation of a species-specific rhetoric: by (1) formalising rhetoric so as to create a functional rhetoric, (2) then reducing this to a symbolic rhetoric that can be used in conjunction with the collected data of an organism’s Umwelt (including its genome) to form (3) a species-specific rhetoric. The paper draws upon the latest research on bacterial and viral communication to show the possibilities of biorhetorics. In the course of discussing the nature of biorhetorics the author distinguishes it from argumentation theory and rhetoric/s of biology, and positions alongside other fields used in the life sciences such as biosemiotics, information theory, game theory, etc.

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