The Dark : The Evolution Of General Rhetoric, By George A. Kennedy

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Posthuman Ekstasis, Panpsychic Being: A Speculative, General Reflexive Rhetoric of Autopoietic Hooting Machines In his 1992 essay “A Hoot in the Dark: The Evolution of General Rhetoric,” George A. Kennedy proposed a foundation of and for a “General Rhetoric” that encompasses the activity of all social, communicative animals, a rhetoric as potential energy that exists prior to not only speech but to the whole of communication. Twenty-five years later, writing in the same journal, Philosophy and Rhetoric, and affiliated with the same institution, Pennsylvania State University, Henry Johnstone identified rhetoric, as a philosophical activity, as one of the handful of activities that separate humankind from the rest of the animal kingdom. Kennedy expanded the particular activities that fall under the domain of Rhetoric to illustrate, in part, that rhetoric, far from being a superfluous, inexact art to be discarded of by the rampant logical positivism and instrumentalism which is characteristic of our era, is in fact integral to the very existence, survival, and indeed consciousness of not humankind, but the whole of socio-sentient life. Johnstone, too, argues his point against the devaluation of rhetoric as a discipline, even though his claim runs counter to that of Kennedy: rhetoric, he says, “is the evocation and maintenance of the consciousness required for communication,” a property unique to human beings (21). It would be folly, according to Johnstone, to attribute this

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