Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

David D. Metzger

Committee Member

Lawrence Hatab

Committee Member

Timothy Bostic


This dissertation is a reminder that how we consider reasoning to work and its end is very much bound up with how we think about people, what they are, what they can be, and how they do and should live together. Part of the end of the human being is to understand, to understand the Good or God and thus understand herself and her relation to others and her obligation to others; this is something we see in Aristotle's somewhat-spiritual understanding of Ethics and the Human Being. Focusing on reasoning (and its connection to being) in general, instead of accenting the limitations and conditionings of the human capacity to know, is part of the means of securing the road for this end, which is especially important, as understanding, which is of and by being, is bound up with morality and moral development. Also, bound up with understanding and how human beings should convey it and build it up are rhetoric and dialectic, which are meant to get to the same end, Good or God, together.

It is a fundamental contention of this project that rhetoric and dialectic cannot or should not be separated, nor these separated from substance, for rhetoric and dialectic easily become instruments of abuse in isolation, as in, for example, a rigid formalism of the self or a rigid formalism of philosophy. I will focus on dialectical aspects of reasoning and understanding here. Situating Aristotle's discussion of how reasoning operates in a discussion prompted by Toulmin's Uses of Argument, this dissertation shows how Aristotle attempts to avoid the lure of formalism by grounding reasoning and its evaluation in the real (which he understands as the connection among mind, world, and language).