Institutio Oratoria: Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza


Rhetoric as Propaedeutics to Philosophy – this is the upshot of the present study on philological aspects in the life and works of Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, René Descartes and Baruch de Spinoza. Against the backdrop of a general historical setting the book provides a detailed account of the different educational paths of the four philosophers as well as their attempts to continue rhetorical training during adulthood. Additional chapters on preferred language(s), reading habits, didactic aims and writing strategies produce further evidence for the hypothesis of a lifelong occupation with the classical art of argument and persuasion. It thus emerges that Rhetoric retains its relevance for the making of a philosopher in the Seventeenth century even among reformist and rationalist movements that are commonly portrayed as hostile to the classical tradition.

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Biographical Note

Jan Rothkamm is teaching fellow in Rhetoric at the University of Tübingen. He holds degrees from the Humboldt University Berlin and the University of Cambridge. He is preparing a related volume on metaphorical speech in Early Modern Philosophy.

Review Quotes

"Wer sich für die philosophische und literarische Kultur der frühen Neuzeit im länderübergreifenden Kontext interessiert, kann aus Rothkamms geistes und kulturgeschichtlicher Studie einiges lernen."
Till Kinzel, Informationsmittel (IFB): digitales Rezensionsorgan für Bibliothek und Wissenschaft

Table of contents


I. Eingangssynchronopse 1561-1679
II. Institutio oratoria
III. Méprise und Wertschätzung von Rhetorik – Rhetorikkonzeptionen
IV. Stilpaten, Philologenfreunde
V. Bilingualismus
VI. Lektüre
VII. Dichtung
VIII. Pädagogik
IX. Schreibmethode
X. Schlußwort



All those interested in the history and theory of Rhetoric, the classical tradition, Early Modern Europe, the history of Philosophy and the history of Science.

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