ABSTRACT

This article uses Heidegger's critique of the aesthetic tradition to reconsider the limits and potential of aesthetic rhetoric. Contextualizing rhetoric's so-called aesthetic turn within the German aesthetic tradition, we argue that aesthetic rhetoric remains constrained by aesthetics' traditional opposition to the rational and the true. This theoretical heritage has often prevented contemporary aesthetic rhetorical theory from considering the value of art beyond sense experience and ritualized cultural reproduction. We claim, however, that rhetoric can be artistic and at the same time project a community's evolving sense of political and social truth. Through an analysis of Simón Bolívar's Angostura Address, which in 1819 inaugurated a political rebirth of the Venezuelan republic, we demonstrate how the art of rhetoric can exhibit Heidegger's three senses of “aletheiaic” truth: the bestowing, grounding, and beginning of a political community.

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