Rhetoric & Dialectic in the Time of Galileo

Article excerpt

Rhetoric & Dialectic in the Time of Galileo. By Jean Dietz Moss and William A. Wallace. (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press. 2003. Pp. ix, 438. $69.95.)

The core of this book consists of introductions to and abridged translations of six Renaissance works in Latin by Italian authors. Five are by Ludovico Carbone (1545-1597): Introduction to Logic (1597); The Tables of Cypriano Soarez's Art of Rhetoric (1589); On the Art of Speaking (1589); On Oratorical and Dialectical Invention (1589); and On Divine Rhetoric (1595). The sixth is Aristotle's Art of Rhetoric (1579) by Antonio Riccobono (1541-1599). The subject matter is clearly that cluster of fields known by such labels as logic, dialectic, and rhetoric; here logic means the theory and practice of demonstration, dialectic the theory and practice of probable reasoning, and rhetoric the theory and practice of persuasive argument. There is also a general introduction with two aims: (1) to contextualize these works in the history of logic-dialectic-rhetoric, by discussing the Aristotelian and medieval traditions and such other Renaissance authors as Lorenzo Valla, Rudolph Agricola, and Peter Ramus; (2) to apply these ideas to the Galileo affair (1613-1633) and advance an account I would label rhetorical.

This book is clearly written, well documented, skillfully argued, and attractively produced. For this alone the authors should be commended. But it has other merits. One is that the material has greater significance than they realize insofar as it is of some relevance to that philosophical and cultural movement labeled informal logic and critical thinking. For example, the following definition of logic by Carbone would find favor with scholars in that field: "Logic is a habit that directs the operations of the mind; or, it is a science of beings of reason as they are directive of the intellect's operations. Or, it is a faculty that treats of the method by which things that are obscure are manifested by defining, things that are confused are discerned by distinguishing, and truths are confirmed and errors refuted by arguing" (p. …


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