Historical Rhetorics/Should We Read Quintilian?/Walzer, Arthur. "Moral Philosophy and Rhetoric in the Institutes: Quintilian on Honor and Expediency." ''Rhetoric Society Quarterly'' 36.3 (2006): 263. Print. • Walzer introduces two themes within rhetoric studies that dominate presentations of Quintilian: 1) Quintilian as politically disengaged, “responding more to themes in the history of rhetoric than to the conditions of oratory in his own time”(263) and 2) Quintilian’s Institute, although a comprehensive presentation of rhetoric, is unoriginal and adds nothing to Ciceronian rhetoric (264).
• Walzer attempts to complicate these conventions by offering an alternative view where Quintilian is a political opportunist who took advantage of the Flavian Emperors’ disapproval of the dissenting and disruptive contemporary philosophers; Institutes presents a curriculum where rhetoric replaces, rather than compliments (Cicero), moral philosophy.
• Walzer makes distinctions between Quintilian and Cicero primarily in relation to their discussions of the separation of rhetoric and philosophy: 1) Cicero’s orator represents a man of broad, cultural knowledge which includes philosophy, while Quintilian, who affirmed Cicero’s “broad, humanistic training, nevertheless insists that what rhetoric lost when it separated from philosophy was a concern with ethics” (268); 2) Quintilian, unlike Cicero and other theorists, was more concerned with the formation of the character of the orator (269); and 3) Cicero’s De Oratore and Quintilian’s Institutes were obviously written for different purposes and within different genres (269).
• Walzer refers to the relationship between the moral or honorable, and the expedient or advantageous in the Institutes to show how moral philosophy is transformed when part of the rhetorical paideia and how oratory training compliments moral discernment; Walzer says, “Quintilian maintains that the meaning of the virtues and the relationship between them can be taught, not merely separately within a rhetorical curriculum, but also and specifically as part of the education in the technê of rhetoric” (270).
• To show how rhetoric as a technê can encompass/replace moral philosophy, Walzer uses two sections (Book 3 on the deliberative forum and Book 11 on style) to discuss two different Quintilian views of the relationship between the honorable and the expedient where the “situational context” in which the orator influences his moral decision-making. “The expedient and the moral both make legitimate claims. When giving advice, the orator weighs the expedient and the honorable in the context of the nature of the audience empowered to make the decision…But when acting in his own person and representing himself, the orator must never choose a course that compromises his personal honor. Preserving personal dignity trumps all other considerations” (277).
Last edited on 14 February 2012, at 22:53
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