Scholars of rhetoric have long held that there is such a thing as a “rhetorical tradition” and that that tradition began within the context of ancient Athenian democracy. Recently this tradition has been expanded to “traditions” that include “non-Western” approaches. Scholars of democracy have similarly dislodged the notion that democracy, broadly understood, developed only in ancient Greece. This essay expands our understanding of both rhetorical traditions and their relation to democracy by studying the interrelation of rhetorical and deliberative practices found in the history of India. Specifically, it explores how one highly influential school of Indian deliberation, Nyaya, grew alongside practices of public reasoning and self-rule in the gaṇa/saṁgha (so-called ancient Indian “republics”), revealing a similar, but unique, impulse to rhetoric beyond the Athenian/Western context. From this study we also gain insight into the current struggle for democracy worldwide.

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