Historical Rhetorics/Sophists Old and New/Vitanza, Victor J. “The Included Third: The Death of Rhetoric and History and the Sophists, and their Rebirth in the Sign of a ‘Third Sophistic.’”
The Third Sophistic is an attempt to move beyond the first two Sophistics. The complication here is that the three do not follow sequentially; the third is in no way an extension of the prior lines of reasoning. Vitanza begins this chapter with an assessment of Edward Schiappa’s claim that defining “the sophists” is impossible. According to Vitanza creating this set of criteria is not only impossible – it’s unnecessary. Defining anything in Schiappa’s Genus-Species method is problematic for Vitanza in that drawing those lines of distinction causes scholars/publics to “other” those that don’t fit the category (negative essentializing). These excluded subjects are silenced by the practice of creating defining characteristics. Vitanza seeks to avoid a differend, or “the using of rules and regimens proper to one party and not the other, and using them as a means of excluding the other,” (45). A second major point of contention for the author is the hypocrisy of Schiappa’s method/ology. He argues, “Though Schiappa says that the Sophists and their rhetoric are both ‘a fiction, originally invented by Plato for his own ends’ (16), Schiappa, nonetheless goes on to use the very in/terror/gating method,” (46). However Vitanza blames neither the rhetoric nor the Sophist, but the Platonic concept, which he believes is a negative essentializing methodology. The quote in the previous paragraph illustrates one of Vitanza’s key stylistic traits. The author sprinkles creative language throughout his work. He combines, deconstructs, reconstructs, and bastardizes words in every paragraph. It sometimes serves to make the reader think about the meaning of terms. Other times it seems like Vitanza is trying to show off. At least once every other page he comes off as a pompous scholar with too much free time, but he seems keenly aware of this fact. It’s almost as if he knows what he is doing with this writing stuff.
Vitanza,Victor. “The Included Third: The Death of Rhetoric and History and the Sophists, and their Rebirth in the Sign of a ‘Third Sophistic.’” Negation, Subjectivity and The History of Rhetoric. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997. 44-51. Print.