AKH seminar: The philosophical relevance of Marcus Fabius Quintilianus and Lorenzo Valla

Guestlecture by Prof. Dr. Fosca Mariani Zini, Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance, Université de Tours

Title: The philosophical relevance of Marcus Fabius Quintilianus and Lorenzo Valla

According to ordinary historiography the theory of argumentation in the Renaissance is characterized by the primacy of rhetoric over dialectics, notably the dialectics specific to the medieval university. I would like to question this interpretation somewhat, seeking to define the salient features of a theory of plausible argumentation – worked out by Lorenzo Valla – where the criteria of validity are deontics, that is, they attempt to determine what is preferable to believe. This means that human knowledge can only lead to plausible and believable conclusions, but belief is at the same time not a mere psychological state, it is a cognitive state. According to this. human beings do not believe arbitrarily, but can submit their beliefs, their convictions, their evaluative judgments to test procedures. This is what Lorenzo Valla would like to systematize in his theory of argumentation. Here, in this, which is a revision of Aristotle's Organon, the influence of Quintilian's Book V of the Institutio oratoria, which is essentially a reading of Cicero's argumentative strategies, plays a significant role