Historical Rhetorics/Cicero's Public and the Greek Tradition/Meador, Prentice A. "Rhetoric and Humanism in Cicero." ''Philosophy & Rhetoric'' 3 (1970): 1–12.
Meador, Prentice A. "Rhetoric and Humanism in Cicero." Philosophy & Rhetoric 3 (1970): 1–12.
Meador begins with an explanation of the most common criticism of Cicero—that he “presents no original views in his treatises” (1)—and seeks immediately to refute this claim, asserting that Cicero is a humanist and a proponent of rhetoric. It is Cicero’s belief, according to Meador, that man is incapable of attaining “perfect knowledge” (3), because all knowledge is based on sensory perception and “perception [cannot] yield knowledge…[because] subjective limitations prevent reliable receptibility”(4). He believes, therefore, that rhetoric is “situationally oriented and founded upon probability” (9). However, even in the absence of absolute knowledge, it is possible for men to behave morally because it is in their nature to be virtuous since, although “[e]ach man will by nature look after his own interest” he is also “dependent by nature on others around him” (5) thereby making it in man’s nature to act for the good of the larger community. He builds on this idea when he defines the idea of a “universal law” as that in which the principle factor is “respect for the common bond of mankind” (7), a respect which he defines as instinctual (part of our nature). And seeking the cooperation of a community requires the use of rhetoric, hence the link between humanism and rhetoric.