Michel Meyer (Université libre de Bruxelles - Belgium)

Burke, Perelman and Problematology: three different views of rhetoric?

Photo of Michel MeyerPerelman deeply respected Burke's vision of rhetoric and resorted several times to the notion of a Burkean ethos, as found in Burke's several books on motives. But what does Burke say, which seems so relevant to Perelman's own conception? Probably a conception of the interacting person playing with identification at all levels, putting at work his or her own possibilities and dispositional characteristics. Nonetheless, if Burke offers a vision of man and his dramatic expressions through rhetoric, Perelman rather provides a vision of rhetoric. Their difference clearly appears in their respective views on tropes. My question is: can we reintegrate both views into one single vision of rhetoric, as presented in the question-view (the so-called problematological conception) of rhetoric I have developed in recent years? Without answering it here, let me say that the master-tropes and the way to conceptualize them will serve as a guiding thread to develop this integrative approach to rhetoric I have called the problematological approach.


Michel Meyer is Professor of Rhetoric and Philosophy at the Université libre de Bruxelles. He succeeded Chaïm Perelman in 1982, to whom he has been the assistant for many years. He has published many works covering philosophy, literary criticism, rhetoric, the history of rhetoric, the passions, art, theatre, ethics, and even Roman art. Several of his works have appeared in English. He is known to be the father of a new philosophy, developing the foundational nature of questioning in thought, problematology. He has taught at Berkeley, Mc Gill, the Sorbonne and the Collège de France. He is Editor of the Revue Internationale de Philosophie and of a book- series at the Presses Universitaires de France.