Cover: Saving Persuasion: A Defense of Rhetoric and Judgment, from Harvard University PressCover: Saving Persuasion in PAPERBACK

Saving Persuasion

A Defense of Rhetoric and Judgment

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$31.00 • £26.95 • €28.95

ISBN 9780674032293

Publication Date: 03/31/2009


290 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


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Bryan Garsten’s fascinating book Saving Persuasion: A Defense of Judgment and Rhetoric explores the long traditions of attacking, or defending, rhetoric and its place in human life.—Simon Blackburn, Financial Times

An engaging and original work of wide appeal. Garsten analyzes the formation of an antirhetorical tradition in modern political thought, investigates its rival classical tradition of rhetoric and judgment, and explores the promise that a politics of persuasion offers contemporary democratic societies.—Daniel Kapust, Perspectives on Politics

Saving Persuasion deserves a wide audience. Any future discussion of the fate of rhetoric in the early modern period, of Cicero, and of Aristotle’s Rhetoric will be defined by Garsten’s work. And we rhetoricians can be very grateful to Garsten for joining us in our often quixotic quest to ‘save persuasion.’—James Arnt Aune, Philosophy and Rhetoric

Bryan Garsten has a coherent and illuminating argument to offer, and has written a book packed with acute insights about great texts in the history of political thought. It’s an intellectually ambitious book that will speak to scholars with interests spanning the whole discipline of political theory, and will allow each of its readers to see perennial issues of political philosophy in a new light.—Ronald Beiner, University of Toronto

By attending in careful and original ways to how the attitudes of modern thinkers to classical rhetoric, and their anxieties about it, shaped their political theories, Bryan Garsten offers persuasive and novel answers to some perennially perplexing interpretive questions associated with these thinkers. In its nuanced treatments of Hobbes, Rousseau, and Kant, and also Cicero and Aristotle, both in their own right and with a view to revitalizing the art of rhetoric, Saving Persuasion contributes substantially to the scholarly literatures on each thinker and advances the field of political theory more generally.—Jill Frank, University of South Carolina

This book is a gem: learned, important, original, persuasive. While the trend in democratic theory is to sideline rhetoric in favor of rationalistic ‘deliberation,’ Garsten explores and defends an older tradition of republican rhetoric that disavows manipulation and pandering but differs with contemporary rationalism in practicing respect for citizens’ actual opinions and for the arts of appealing to them. The book’s arguments are unexpected and bracing; its discussion of canonical thinkers is consistently fresh and brings to bear neglected works to enliven more familiar debates. Finally, the work’s style—vivid, clear, and elegant—deserves almost as much praise as its substance.—Andrew Sabl, University of California, Los Angeles

Awards & Accolades

  • 2007 Delba Winthrop Mansfield Memorial Fund Book Award
  • 2006 First Book Award, Foundations of Political Theory Section of the American Political Science Association

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