RA 5: “Cities of Rhetoric”

In the final chapter of David Fleming’s “City of Rhetoric,” the author argues that the creation and design of environments “conducive to human flourishing” is inherently difficult yet we continue to keep trying to create them. More specifically, Fleming argues that this struggle has been taught to us by the Greeks. Fleming’s utilization of Greek myths helps to clarify and explain his argument, specifically in regards to a city being both a people and a place. For example, Fleming writes that the city was “bound together by shared ancestors, values, customs, institutions, and language.” In this passage, Fleming specifically explores the Greek’s relationship to place versus our modern relationship to place in a polis. Fleming establishes that the Greeks valued making cities democratic and located on flat ground in order to promote a plurality of free and equal voices. Yet, our cities millions of years later are places that we depend on physically, instead of socially. Fleming suggests that our basic, physical needs as citizens are now greater than our social needs. For example, the homeless depend much more on having shelter and food than a place for social debate. This was not as prominent an issue during the times of Greek prosperity. This begs the question: if our physical needs for shelter are so great and important, why has our society not provided adequate housing for those less fortunate? Fleming explains that designing adequate housing for the poor and disadvantaged should not be the main focus, rather designing housing for human beings as a whole. Fleming also argues that we also need to consider public spheres that will sustain humankind, rather than limit us to small, familiar circles of discussion. This problem is addressed, according to Fleming, by encouraging a new way of thinking and talking about things like politics and humanity that promotes diversity. By supporting a society where civic life includes debate and discussion, Fleming advocates that many of these problems will be caressed and eventually solved.

Works Cited:

Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric. Ithaca, US: SUNY Press, 2008. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 25 April 2017.

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