Fall 2006, 36:4, pages 425-448
The Way, Multimodality of Ritual Symbols, and Social Change: Reading Confucius's Analects as a Rhetoric
Most rhetorical readings of Confucius's Analects have focused on his views on eloquence, reflecting on insuppressible impulse among comparative rhetoricians to match Confucian rhetoric to Greco-Roman rhetorical framework. My reading of the text argues that Confucius was more concerned about the suasory power of the multimodality of ritual symbols than narrowly verbal persuasion. To achieve the Way for restoring social unity and peace, Confucius emphasizes the ritualization of both the self and the others through studying history and performing rituals reflectively. I suggest, as the first Chinese rhetoric par excellence, the Analects shares some similar features with epideictic rhetoric.