Pending the outcome of the continuing review of our current operations, all Muslim Faculty of Advanced Studies programmes are suspended until further notice.

In the interim, we have made the lectures freely available here on this site.

MFAS Symposiums are intended as an alternative to the adversarial mode of dialectical debate that all too often leaves the participants none-the-wiser. Therefore, the aim of these Symposiums is to recover the ancient scholastic tradition of inviting teachers, experts, students and other interested parties to an appropriately conducive setting in order to collectively examine and reflect upon selected themes in a purposeful atmosphere of collaboration and convivial company. Each event is recorded on film and where appropriate the proceedings are issued as a combined package of audio-visual and written materials.

The Symposium as a recovery of the rhetorical tradition in practice

Rhetorical Competence, Collaborative Deliberation and Reflective Enquiry:

‘Knowing Together’

“… associating rhetorical competence with the creation and preservation of a community’s moral ecology is a commonplace of the rhetorical tradition… 

“Beginning with the Sophists, training in rhetorical competence has had as one of its internal goals increasing people’s chances of getting an equal hearing for their ideas such that they and their contributions might be recognised and respected as important to the sociopolitical workings of a community. Moreover, as Aristotle would have us understand in expanding on this point, the service provided to the community by its members’ rhetorical competence extends beyond mere persuasion to include the development of judgment (krisis) and practical wisdom (phronesis). Rhetorical competence lends itself to collaborative deliberation and collective inquiry (including the self-deliberations of individual members)…  

“In the rhetorical situation an audience is not set at a distance. Rather, it is acknowledged, engaged, and called into the space of practical concerns. By facilitating civic engagement, rhetorical competence helps sustain and enrich the knowledge of any public, and thus a community’s own competence. Through the deliberative rationality of rhetorical practices, a community can recognise itself and judge whether to admit the epistemological and moral claims of those who are attempting to influence it. Hence, in its very functioning, rhetorical competence gives expression to the communal character of the self’s existence and in so doing allows all concerned to ‘know together’ (con-scientia). For us as for the Greeks, maintaining the health of our communal existence requires nothing less.

“There is another art, however, in addition to rhetoric, that asks us to attend to the nature and importance of rhetorical competence… It is the art of understanding, or hermeneutics, an art that, as the philologist and founder of modern hermeneutic theory Friedrich Schleiermacher points out, “at once depends upon and presupposes composition,” whether spoken or written. Here Schleiermacher associates the composition of a text with the art of presentation (rhetoric), an art that enables the author to explicate his subject matter so that it may be understood by others. Hence, […] every act of understanding is the reverse side of an act of speaking [or writing], and one must grasp the thinking that underlies a given statement.”


[W. Jost and M.J. Hyde (eds.) ‘Rhetoric and Hermeneutics in Our Time: A Reader’ pp. 3-4]