From time to time I have people with advanced degrees in Rhetoric lurk around here... Wrangler, Enthyalias, etc. And Mxrk took a class once I think.
So I've had a question lately: once you understand and really believe that everything is rhetorical and "subjective" (I know that's a messy term, but don't get snagged on it) and without an everlasting foundation in the Truth, how do you participate?
In "final" terms: how do you decide, for example, who to vote for? Do you just position yourself as the audience and justify it in those terms: "Well, whichever argument appeals to me more deftly is the one I follow."
But isn't that a kind of tautology? Or doesn't it beg the question? Something like that -- what I'm asking is, suppose I identify two compelling arguments about the way one should live... let's say one is as an ascetic in a monastery and the other is as a married person with kids and a job. For the rhetorician, neither is intrinsically "correct," and so I'm asking: what is the cause of the rhetorician's decision? More explicitly: what is the cause of personal preference?
For the record: I wish we were all in 215. You'd be able to tell from my tone that this isn't a set-up... I "came around" a couple of years ago, and I agree with almost everything I used to disagree with. Nevertheless, the "itch" I used to feel about Truth (which was to me a question of metaphysics/ontology) has been replaced by an "itch" to understand what motivates (an epistemological/psychological question). In other words, I'm a convert. I'm willing to listen. But I am sort of politely demanding an answer, or else I will come to the disappointing conclusion that the discipline of rhetoric is a rather mundane (if well-branded) version of "common sense."
Possibly relevant observation: In Carlos Castaneda's book, A Separate Reality (the one little Ben gave to Sayid), the guru-mentor Don Juan suggests that every path in life is equal, and therefore every next move is equal... he is stubborn in maintaining that there is no rational basis for action. And yet he goes on, day after day, in a kind of unjustified dance: "controlled folly," he calls it. But... once or twice Don Juan suggests that, although no path is better than any other, it's important that the chooser choose a path "with heart."