Abstract: Although “community” has become an important critical concept in contemporary rhetoric, it is only implicit in ancient rhetorics. In the rhetorical thought of the sophists, Plato, and Aristotle, the polis stands as a presupposition that was both fundamental and troublesome. Various relationships between the faculty of speech and the social order are revealed in different tellings of the history of civilization by Protagoras, Plato, and Aristotle, as well as in more formal discussions of rhetoric and politics. These ancient disagreements about the nature of community can help us reformulate the current debate between liberalism and communitarianism. A rhetorical community as a site of contention can be both pluralist and normative.
- Copyright 1993, The International Society for the History of Rhetoric