Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

James V. Catano


The present dissertation consists of six parts: an introduction, four chapters and a conclusion. It is intended to recapture the rhetorical norms governing the Confucian and Socratic dialogues--their voice of credibility, proto-scientific attitude, tragic consciousness, and use of irony--so as to demonstrate how rhetoric enables them to carry out their political, philosophical and epistemological pursuits; my research aims at the description of similarities and differences between Socrates's and Confucius's rhetorical methods, which are shaped by their respective historical and cultural contexts. Specifically, my major objectives are to foreground, in accordance with Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of dialogism, the significance of the "dialogical rhetoric" and dialogic imagination of the two cultural giants in their own rhetorical contexts, and also to illuminate how their application of dialogue contributes to our understanding of orality and literacy in an era of electronic revolution. As a final goal, I attempt to facilitate an intercultural dialogue between Confucius and Socrates so as to help set up a bridge of communication between the East and West through my delineation of Confucius's rhetorical vision of harmony among human beings and between nature and human society, and also through my description of Socrates's true rhetoric of philosophy that has inspired numerous admirers in the East for its persistent efforts to seek truth and knowledge. I am convinced that a better understanding of their rhetorical activities will help reconcile some conceptual conflicts between Western and Eastern cultural traditions instead of intensifying a possibly sharp confrontation that some cultural historians have predicted for the twenty-first century.