Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr. - Chair

Second Advisor

Christopher White

Third Advisor

Angelo Restivo

Fourth Advisor

Melissa Merritt


Carlo Michelstaedter's Persuasion and Rhetoric (1910) is one of best examples of what Massimo Cacciari calls the early twentieth century "metaphysics of youth." Persuasion and Rhetoric is the result of Michelstaedter's academic investigation on the concepts of "persuasion" and "rhetoric" in Plato and Aristotle. Michelstaedter saw in Plato's corpus the gradual abandonment of Parmenidean "being" and Socrates' dialogical philosophy. He reinterpreted the notions of "persuasion" and "rhetoric" terms of a radical dichotomy, using them to represent two opposed ontological modalities, two epistemological attitudes, and two existential alternatives. If "rhetoric" comprehends language, institutional knowledge, and all manifestations of empirical life, then "persuasion" is defined as the unity of the individual with Parmenidean being. Persuasion is an impossible choice: "lifeless life." Being a decisive alternative to rhetoric, persuasion - much like Platonic mania - can neither be articulated nor communicated. Nevertheless, Michelstaedter speaks, aware of his inevitable failure: he will not persuade anyone.


Included in

Philosophy Commons