Descartes and the Resilience of Rhetoric: Varieties of Cartesian Rhetorical Theory

By Thomas M. Carr Jr. | Go to book overview

4
Port-Royal and Eloquence Rhetoric at the Margins

As for rhetoric...the assistance it provides in finding the proper wording and embellishments was not so considerable. The mind furnishes sufficient ideas, usage provides the wording, and as for figures and ornaments, there are always too many.

En ce qui regarde la Rhétorique... le secours qu'on en pouvait tirer pour trouver des expressions, et des embellissements, n'était pas si considérable. L'esprit fournit assez de pensées, l'usage donne les expressions; et pour les figures et les ornements, on n'en a tonjours que trop.

Arnauld and Nicole, Logique de Port-Royal

Invoking both a Cartesian preference for clear and distinct ideas and a moralist's urge to limit the consequences of the Fall, the authors of La Logique, ou l'art de penser, the text known as the Logique de Port-Royal ( 1662), pride themselves on having all but eliminated eloquence:

[A]s for rhetoric...almost all of it consists in turning away from certain bad manners of writing and speaking, and above all from an artificial style typical of rhetoricians com-

-62-

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