Journal of Daesoon Thought and the Religions of East Asia
The Daesoon Academy of Sciences
Original Article

Rhetorical Relationality and The Four Tenets of Daesoon Jinrihoe

Brian FEHLER1,*
1Texas Woman’s University, USA
*Corresponding Author :

Brian Fehler, Ph.D., is a tenured professor of English at Texas Woman’s University in Denton. There, he teaches graduate courses in the history of rhetoric and undergraduate courses in rhetoric and writing studies. A Lifetime Member of the Rhetoric Society of America, his articles have appeared in Rhetoric Review and RSQ: Rhetoric Society Quarterly and he has presented papers throughout the United States and in Germany, India, and the U.K. He is co-editor (with Elizabeth Weiser and Angela Gonzalez) of Engaging Audience: Writing in an Age of New Literacies (2009) and editor of the first English edition of The Canonical Scripture of Daesoon Jinrihoe.

© Copyright 2023 The Daesoon Academy of Sciences. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Jul 08, 2022; Revised: Feb 28, 2023; Accepted: Mar 20, 2023

Published Online: Mar 30, 2023


For centuries in the Christian era in the West, rhetoric was considered to be a pagan art, one unnecessary for, and detrimental to, religious propagation. As the Christian era gave way to a scientific one during the Enlightenment, both rhetoric and religion were considered irrational and outside the scope of Cartesian certainty. In recent decades, though, rhetorical studies have regained status in universities and rhetorical studies of religion have proliferated. Much work remains to be done, however. For example, Western rhetorical models do not typically consider religious tenets or creeds in terms of what this article will call rhetorical relationality, because creeds and tenets of Western Christianity tend to be purely exhortative. In the West, then, we lack a framework for such an analysis, but with the Four Tenets of Daesoon Jinrihoe, we are presented with Tenets that can, in fact, be analyzed relationally. In order to analyze them as such, this article draws upon philosophical, legal, and rhetorical frameworks developed by major twentieth-century rhetorician Chaim Perelman to understand the primary concern of mutuality expressed in contemporary rhetorical relationality.

Keywords: rhetorical relationality; Chaim Perelman; The Four Tenets


For most of Western religio-philosophical history, scholars and practitioners, following Aristotle, Plato, St Augustine and others, have endorsed linear, positivist, and binary models of thinking and behavior. The discipline of rhetoric has generally followed those intellectual trends. However, in recent years, rhetoricians have begun to embrace concepts of relationality and connectedness. Social scientist Shawn Wilson writes, for example, “knowledge is relational. Knowledge is shared with all of creation” (Wilson 2008, 176). He argues that a rhetor must consider one’s relationship with reality, with the natural world, with people.” Likewise, Sidney Dobrin and Christian Weisser point out that rhetoric scholar Kenneth Burke regularly claimed that “intellectual life cannot be removed from ‘life’ itself” (Dobrin and Weisser 2002, 15). This article will extend this trajectory of rhetorical understanding of relationality into a new realm: The Four Tenets of the Korean new religion, Daesoon Jinrihoe. The concepts held by this Korean new religion (and Korean religious thinking in general) remain an unexplored field in rhetorical studies, as Massimo Introvigne recognizes: “The study of Korean new religions is under-developed in the West” (Introvigne 2021, 8). The Four Tenets—virtuous concordance of yin and yang; harmonious union between Divine Beings and human beings; resolution of grievances for mutual beneficence; perfected state of unification with Dao—provide a foundation for Daesoon Jinrihoe, what scholar Don Baker calls “the most prominent of the various Chŭngsan’gyo religions” (Baker 2019, 299). Considering the Four Tenets rhetorically, this article will for the first time demonstrate for Western rhetoricians the applicability of the Tenets to rhetorical relationality which will help us further our understanding of rhetoric as what Michel de Certeau calls “sets of interrelated, dynamic ‘everyday’ practices” (De Certeau 2011, 2). The philosophical, legal, and rhetorical framework established in the twentieth century by Chaim Perelman will serve as our framework for understanding the common concern for mutuality expressed in contemporary rhetorical relationality.

Perelman, Rhetorical Relationality, and Eastern Mutuality

Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca's The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation (1969) remains one of the seminal works on rhetoric in the twentieth century. However, Perelman’s adoption by rhetoricians, particularly American rhetoricians, as one of their own, has resulted in something of a mixed blessing for the Perelman legacy. Certainly, any course on contemporary rhetoric would appear incomplete without The New Rhetoric or its more accessible version, The Realm of Rhetoric (1982). Unfortunately, scholars of rhetoric often read one of these two works, then suppose that they have a broad enough understanding of Perelman. Indeed, reading The New Rhetoric, much more studying it at some length, is no small achievement, and most disciplinary debates regarding Perelman begin and end with that text. But we must remember that Perelman considered himself primarily a philosopher, which makes his work particularly applicable to religious discourse, and he received degrees in philosophy and law. Perelman's interests extend beyond those touched upon in The New Rhetoric, and his body of scholarship, on the whole, reveals a paramount concern for justice, law, equity, and mutuality. Thus, his work provides a particularly valuable lens for examining the Tenets of Daesoon Jinrihoe, as they share those concerns as well, particularly the value of mutuality. That mutual concern for mutuality should come as no surprise, as both Perelman’s New Rhetoric project and Daesoon Jinrihoe emerged in response to conflict. We saw that Perelman was responding to the violence of World War II, and Don Baker writes:

In the scriptures of the most prominent of the various Chŭngsan’gyo denominations, Daesoon Jinrihoe (Taesun Chillihoe 大巡眞理會), we are told he taught that the world has descended into a state of constant competition rather than cooperation, creating injustice and resentment. The build-up of resentment had finally reached a point where it has become a dangerous negative force. This negative energy, the result of a cosmic order based on mutual conflict (sanggŭk 相剋), has grown strong enough to disturb order in the cosmos. (Baker 2019, 299)

That disordered cosmos, and the ways to remedy it, call for a. continual response, continual action, the character of the response encapsulated, for Daesoon Jinrihoe, in the Four Tenets and, for Perelman, in the terminology we will apply to the Tenets.

The Belgian Perelman was first introduced to Americans scholars in the late 1960s and early 1970s, after the appearance of the English translation of The New Rhetoric. Perelman was introduced to the United States largely through the influence of Henry Johnstone, professor of speech communication at Pennsylvania State University, and editor of Philosophy and Rhetoric. Another scholar, Ray D. Dearin, joined the early philosophical advocates. In an article which appeared in the October 1969 publication of Quarterly Journal of Speech, Dearin ends his comments in no uncertain terms, insisting that “[i]t is in the light of Perelman’s entire philosophic enterprise, then, that one should approach his theory of rhetoric” (Dearin 1969, 224). Dearin, himself, in the article provides a broad and useful overview of Perelman’s philosophy, particularly his conception of epistemology. Not all (or even most) Western rhetoricians are as thoroughly invested in philosophical concerns or traditions as Perelman was, and thus we can find in his work, through the philosophical realm, affinities with Eastern and Daesoon Thought, and, thereby, strength our intercultural understanding of both topics.

The Historical Emergence of a New Rhetoric

Additionally, Perelman was actively involved in putting his philosophy into action (he was dedicated to not being “a mere pursuer of prose” as The Canonical Scripture put it). In Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric, Foss, Foss, and Trapp note that Perelman “was an individual of action as well as ideas” (Foss, Foss and Trapp 1991, 120). The action to which Foss, Foss, and Trapp refer involves Perelman's work, as a young man, in the Belgian resistance movement during World War II. Most students of Perelman know that he participated in the movement, but—because he did not often discuss his involvement—few details have emerged regarding this important, formative period in Perelman's life. Indeed, when Perelman was offered a medal of valor following the war, he refused the honor, insisting: “My heart was on fire. I simply picked up a pail of water to douse the flames. I want no medals” (Foss, Foss and Trapp 1991, 120). It would be useful for intercultural communication, I think, to study the reorganization of European universities following the war and to see how such a momentous historical event affected the Ivory Towers. I have found no such study, but when Perelman returned to the University of Brussels to teach law, ethics, and metaphysics—still a young man at thirty-three—we can surely imagine that his lectures, and those of his colleagues, responded to the changed world.

Perelman's reluctance to discuss his resistance work is not an uncommon silence; some resistance workers came forward in the post-war years to make their stories public. Many others simply returned to their pre-war lives, in attempts to regain normalcy. We cannot begrudge these workers their privacy, but fortunately historians have made increasing efforts to record these important stories.3 In any event, the role of Jews in the resistance movement has received, in particular, little attention. Rab Bennett writes that “[t]he subject of Jewish resistance is relegated to a footnote in many standard general works, and ignored altogether in others: in Henri Michel's The Shadow War Jewish resistance merits a mere four pages in a 360-page book” (Bennett 1999, 9). Throughout Perelman's work, including The New Rhetoric, his concern for unconstrained dialogue is apparent; in the works here considered, these issues come to the forefront. Those issues also inspired Perelman’s desire to shift rhetoric’s focus from persuasion (with its undertones of compulsion) to communion (with its value of cooperation).

This historical reconstruction allows us to understand Perelman's mistrust of Cartesianism, which he famously addresses in The New Rhetoric, a mistrust that will become more apparent as we consider Daesoon’s Four Tenets in light of Perelman’s work. His mistrust of Cartesian scientism will provide a primary affinity with Eastern thought. Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca define their project as “a break with the concept of reason and reasoning due to Descartes which has set its mark on Western philosophy for the last three centuries” (Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca 1969, 1). It is no accident that The New Rhetoric addresses Cartesianism in forceful, battle-ready language. If the forces of “good” triumphed on the battlefields of Europe, the forces of “justice” were still estranged from Western philosophy and universities. Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca write: “it is the idea of self-evidence as characteristic of reason, which we must assail, if we are to make place for a theory of argumentation that will acknowledge the use of reason in directing our own actions and influencing those of others” (Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca 1969, 3). “Self-evidence,” as Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca believe, has grown since the time of Descartes into an intellectual tyrant, one which is seen as a “force to which every normal mind must yield,” and one which “imposes itself” (Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca 1969, 3).

Reading The New Rhetoric in its post-war context, we cannot ignore the connotations of such terms. For Perelman, the individual action was necessary to contribute to cooperation and mutuality in a world of tensions. His path, thus, for bringing to rhetoric a rich understanding of philosophy for helping to heal a community and the world has a long history in the West, of course; one thinks famously of Boethius and his Consolation of Philosophy. In the Eastern tradition, too, as exemplified in The Canonical Scripture of Daesoon Jinrihoe, Sangje reads works of human wisdom in order to help him heal the world. We read there:

At that time, Sangje read through the books on Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism; in addition, He read through books on the yin-yang school of thought, prophecy, and other books related to philosophy. He thought these could be helpful to save the world by rectifying faults (Acts 2:1)

In The New Rhetoric and the Humanities, Perelman writes that “[i]n 1945, when I published my first study of justice, I was completely ignorant of the importance of rhetoric” (Perelman 1979, 7-8). Perelman decided in that work that the “idea of value is, in effect, incompatible both with formal necessity and with experiential universality. There is no value which is not logically arbitrary” (Perelman 1979, 8). For Perelman, values must be conceived of philosophically, but such values cannot remain the object of philosophical inquiry. However, in this schema, Perelman found something missing. He writes: “I was deeply dissatisfied with this conclusion, however interesting the analysis, since the philosophical inquiry, carried on within the limits of logical empiricism, could not provide [. . .] the establishment of rules and models for reasonable action” (Perelman 1979, 8). Perelman searched for a model that could analyze behavior that was reasonable rather than logical. Perelman's immediate historical context, no matter how much he attempted to downplay this motivation, fueled his quest. This question lingered: “Is it possible for us to reason about values instead of making them depend solely on irrational choices, based on interest, passion, prejudice, and myth? Recent history has shown abundantly the sad excesses to which such an attitude can lead” (Perelman 1979, 8).

This search led Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca to “recover” the Aristotelian tradition of dialectical reasoning, a system which is “devoted to the analysis of human reasoning” (Perelman 1979, 9). One cannot have justice at all, Perelman seems to have discovered, without arguing one's way to a specific notion of justice. That justice, as Perelman wrote, is an expression of values, and is best understood in terms of a community and mutuality. It is from that starting point that we will embark on the joint exploration of Daesoon Thought within a Perelmanian framework. There is, of course, a great deal of relatedness among the Four Tenets of Daesoon Jinrihoe themselves, and thus the tenets serve as an excellent illustration of the ways rhetorics of relatedness operate. Central to each of the tenets are the characteristics of communication, balance, and mutuality, characteristics which are also central to rhetorics of relatedness. We will take each of the tenets in turn, as well as one principal of Perelmanian rhetoric, also in turn, as each illuminates the other mutually, and demonstrates the complete system of rhetorical relatedness expressed in these principles of Daesoon Thought.

Self-Evidence and the First Tenet

Among the most important projects that Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca take up in The New Rhetoric is one that is central to relational rhetorics: the dismantling of supposed “self-evidence.” Self-evidence is problematic in The New Rhetoric and relational rhetorics generally because the concept is one that brooks no debate, no discussion, no invitation to dialogue. It simply stands, uncontestable, indivisible. Throughout The New Rhetoric, “[s]elf-evidence is conceived both as a force to which every normal mind must yield and as a sign of the truth of that which imposes itself because it is self-evident” (Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca 1969, 3). In some ways, Parts Two and Three of The New Rhetoric, the large majority of that book, become a textbook for dismantling the mystery of self-evidence—-for making explicit that which claims to be—-or merely takes advantage of its status as—implicit, to expose the constructedness of most truth claims. It is in connection to the charges against self-evidence that the first tenet of Daesoon Jinrihoe—“Virtuous Concordance of Yin and Yang”—can be productively considered in this rhetorical context. Unlike the forceful, imposing nature of self-evidence, yin and yang is a literal give and take—not all one, but not all the other. It is, by its nature, dependent, and thus exists in a state of mutuality. We read in The Canonical Scripture:

When yin vanishes, yang comes into being; When yang vanishes, yin comes into being. The Dao of birth and vanishing lies in yin and yang. Thus, after a man can use yin and yang, his life can be called authentic. (Saving Lives 43).

In its state of give and take, a full spectrum of being, yin and yang provides a means of authenticity, whereas claims of self-evidence require compulsion. In her article on yin and yang in Eastern forms of rhetoric, Hui Wu writes:

“In studies of rhetoric and communication, yin-yang perspectives have prompted scholars to question established dichotomies grounded on a Western analytical framework, such as direct and indirect, deductive and inductive, logical and analogical, individualistic and collectivistic, or classified and holistic, as well as male and female, culture and nurturing, and reasoning and caring in gender studies” (Wu 2018, 46).

We see evidence for this claim in the Daesoon understanding of yin and yang, for we read in The Canonical Scripture:

As gods come to be and humans come next, the former is yin and the latter yang. As males come to be and females come next, the former is yang and the latter yin. As there is inside and outside, the former is yin and the latter yang. As there is the right and the left, the former is yang and the latter yin. As there is that which is hidden and that which is revealed, the former is yin and the latter yang. As there is the front and the rear, the former is yang and the latter yin. Every affair in Heaven and Earth is accomplished amid yin and yang; the order of all things is achieved amid yin and yang. (The Scripture of Yin and Yang, Progress of the Order 2:42)

Even more specifically rhetorical, the notion of concordance in relation to yin and yang refers to agreement. Rhetorically, agreement is a starting point. In relation to the tenet, concordance must also be seen not merely as a static state but as a process that requires continual attention and work. There is a normative and corrective function to this first Tenet that we see expressed in the others as well. For example, we read in The Canonical Scripture that: “Once, after writing and posting the words, ‘yin (陰)’ and ‘yang (陽)’ on the wall of the clinic, Sangje attached one sheet of blank paper on it and said, ‘See who will be caught.’ Much later, He said, ‘A weak man has been caught’” (Acts 4:33). This normative and corrective function of yin and yang is a characteristic of justice, and in the discussions of the following tenets we will turn greater attention to that issue.

Monism and the Second Tenet

Related to the notion of self-evidence is monism, another obstacle to and issue for rhetorical relatedness. Monism can well be understood, as we shall see, and even countered by, the example of the second tenet of Daesoon Jinrihoe: “Harmonious Union Between Divine and Human Beings.” Monism is defined and discussed by Perelman, and it serves as something of a villain in Perelman’s thought, for monism is the opponent not only of pluralism, but by association, of freedom itself. The threat of monism can be seen beneath the surface and between the lines in The New Rhetoric, but there is a more detailed, direct discussion of monism in other works, including The New Rhetoricand the Humanities, “The Foundation and Limits of Tolerance” (Perelman 1963), and Justice, Law, and Argument (Perelman 1980). Indeed, Perelman, himself, approaches this topic almost surreptitiously in Chapter 1 of The New Rhetoric and the Humanities, when, after a rather extended discussion of the relationship of rhetoric and reason, he writes:

Now if one is not prepared to accept such a limitation to a monism of values in the world of action and would reject such a reduction on the ground that the irreducibility of many values is the basis of our freedom and of our spiritual life [...] it seems obvious that our intellectual tools cannot be all reduced to formal logic. (Perelman 1979, 30)

The limitation and reduction to which Perelman refers is the concept of monism itself. For this pluralist philosopher, monism must necessarily prove reductive, limiting. In such a view, the development of formal logic as the “one true way” in academic demonstration is unsatisfactory. But Perelman only teases the reader here with his thoughts regarding monism; one must read a bit more before receiving a fuller explication.

This explication Perelman provides in Chapter 4, the beginning lines of which read: “Like most philosophical notions the notion of ‘pluralism’ as opposed to ‘monism’ is confused, since when used in different contexts its meaning and scope change” (Perelman 1969, 62). In Chapter Four of The New Rhetoric, Perelman discusses three broad types of monism; he hints that there are more, but he discusses only three. The first, with which any elementary student of religion would be familiar, is “Ontological monism.” Ontological monism is a term interchangeable with monotheism, “which states that there is but one true God, who pervades the whole universe, or who is the Creator of all that exists” (Perelman 1969, 62). The second form, “Axiological” monism is closely related to the first, and results from “[t]he idea that God knows the solution of all moral problems,” and that, therefore, “in any conflict of values there is a way of reconciling all differences of opinion by reducing all values with their infinite diversity to one single value” (Perelman 1969, 62). This distinction, though not a sharp one, is important. For in Perelman’s thought, ontological monism, at times, serves as a respected value, yet axiological monism, the adherence to “the one true way,” distorts and corrupts ontological monism. Philosophically, or theologically, academic debates may concern themselves with ontological questions. These philosophies are eventually enacted axiologically, however. Perelman is always concerned with practical reasoning, in how philosophy plays itself out in the “real world.” Axiological monism is real world monism; therefore, it remains dangerous. Finally, the third type of monism, “sociological monism,” extends from axiological monism and is the most pernicious form in Perelman’s view because it suggests in social situations and problems there can be only one solution.

The problem of monism is far less of a concern, if one at all, in Daesoon Thought. As David W. Kim writes in the Introduction to Daesoon Jinrihoe in Modern Korea:

The traditional religions of Asia not only prospered among the local people during ancient and medieval centuries but also played a significant role within each society of the continent by sustaining Asia’s unique regional culture within the history of humanity. The social order was influenced by the teachings of each religion and by plural religions (Kim 2020, 1).

That ancient experience of plurality of religions itself is a fortunate obstacle to the development of monistic thought. As in our discussion of self-evidence and Tenet One above, and as we shall further see in the discussions to follow, mutuality is of utmost importance here. In the philosophical and religious traditions of the West (Catholicism, Protestantism, Cartesianism, etc.) of which Perelman’s milieu was of course a product, mutuality was secondary to the primarily monistic modes of thinking. In Daesoon Jinrihoe’s Canonical Scripture, we read that:

Gods without humans behind them have no one to supplicate them and rely on them.

Humans without gods before them, have no one to guide them and no one to rely on.

When gods and humans are in concord, every affair is accomplished; When gods and humans are in unity, all kinds of enterprises are fulfilled.

Gods are waiting for humans; Humans are waiting for gods.

If yin and yang are in unity with each other and gods and humans are unified with each other, the Dao of Heaven is accomplished and so is the Dao of Earth.

Therefore, when the affairs of gods are accomplished, the affairs of humans are accomplished; when the affairs of humans are accomplished, the affairs of gods are accomplished. Gods, gods, all gods of Heaven and Earth! Please look down on me, who follows the mandate. Great One of holiness and sagacity! Please make my wish come true. (The Scripture of Yin and Yang, Progress of the Order 2:42)

The mutuality of human-divine relations is there expressed in every line, and, crucially, the divine dimension is expanded considerably over monotheism; in fact, we can say that the logical and philosophical end-result of monotheism, for Perelman, is philosophical monism. The end-result of philosophical monism, in turn, is the primacy of demonstration over argumentative reasoning. Demonstration, in a scientistic sense, accepts only one right way, one right answer, as does, of course, monotheism. (Again, we can see in Perelman’s rejection of “the one way” of scientistic demonstration, the haunted specter of fascism looming over 1930s and 1940s Europe, as Perelman worked in the resistance against Hitler and National Socialism).

As an alternative to reductive demonstration, Perelman proposes a relational rhetoric approach of epideictic. Epideictic was not new to Perelman; the ancients in the West had written of it, principally Aristotle. But for those ancients, epideictic was solely a speech of praise or blame, such as a eulogy or denunciation. In Perelman’s schema, epideictic was broadened to include all forms of practical reasoning and persuasion that sought to strengthen an audience’s adherence to a value or set of values. The values were, themselves, not absolutes but generalities, and the audience’s degree of adherence to them might vary considerably; all that was well and good, as Perelman was not seeking absolute adherence. Epideictic differs from demonstration primarily in the experience of mutuality. In scientistic demonstration, the result or the “answer” cares nothing (does not, in fact, “care” at all) for its own beneficial attributes: it simply is. (An example would be the atomic bomb, a scientifically demonstrable fact, but not a beneficial one).

In The New Rhetoric, Perelman explicitly discusses the relationship between epideictic discourse and mutuality, writing:

The purpose of an epidictic [sic, etc.] speech is to increase the intensity of adherence to values held in common by the audience and the speaker. The epidictic speech has an important part to play, for without such common values upon what foundation could deliberative and legal speeches rest? Whereas these two kinds of speeches make use of dispositions already present in the audience [...] in epidictic speech, on the other hand, the sharing of values is an end pursued independently of the precise circumstances in which this communion will be put to the test. (Perelman 1979, 52-3)

In this passage, Perelman emphasizes the importance, in any system of thought, of a community of mutuality—-indeed, a community of minds—-and his new rhetoric is no exception. Monism, in such a system, will not do, for epideictic rhetoric’s dependence on the community of minds will serve to advance mutuality. The rhetor must bear in mind the values of the audience, for the audience in a sage discourse community will accept nothing less. Similarly, monism will not do in Daesoon Thought, as expressed by Tenet Two, based as it is on the harmonious mutuality between divine and human beings. The Canonical Scripture put the matter this way, in one such instance:

The success of work undertaken depends on Heaven and Earth, not on humans alone. But in case of the absence of humans, Heaven and Earth might not exist. Hence, Heaven and Earth gives birth to humans to make use of them. If you, who have come into being as a human, do not participate in the work when Heaven and Earth tries to use humans, how can you say that you are living a true life? (Dharma 3:47).

Here, the idea of mutuality between Heaven and Earth is beautifully described in terms of the good life, an authentic life. For only through living in mutuality can one achieve such a life of authenticity. Monism provides no true avenues for mutuality and thus, in the rhetorical relatedness system of Perelman and in the theological system of The Canonical Scripture, is not of value. In this respect, we see the connectedness between Daesoon’s first and second tenets, for The Canonical Scripture also tell us: “Human beings are yang and divine beings are yin. After yin and yang combine, the Dao of change comes into existence” (Saving Lives 43).

A final comment on monism, epideictic, and the second tenet; Perelman recognized that monism could lead easily to despair, and that despair could result in inaction, a dangerous mix. In The New Rhetoric and the Humanities, Perelman writes: “The orator’s aim in epideictic genre ... is to awaken a disposition so to act. This is achieved by forming a community of minds, which Kenneth Burke...calls identification” (Perelman 1979, 320). Action is one way, perhaps the primary way, of providing mutuality in a community, and thus epideictic rhetoric values the importance of action. The mutuality of action is also recognized in non-monistic Daesoon Thought. The Canonical Scripture tell us that “There is an opportunity for human affairs, and there is a time for heavenly affairs” (Reordering Works 2:24). Action need not be constant in either system—there is a time for each—but it is vital in a system of mutuality.

Relatedness, Tolerance, and the Third Tenet

In light of Perelman’s views of monistic thought, it should not be surprising that his ideal state is a tolerant, pluralistic one. Perelman considers pluralism, as he defines the concept, to have arisen from the Protestant Reformation. This is interesting in light of Perelman’s mistrust of monism, that he realized that even among monotheistic religions, certain events, conditions, and rhetorics could lead to a more or less peaceful coexistence. Perelman finds this historical example in the age of reform, and in an article, “The Foundations and Limits of Tolerance” (Perelman 1963), he defines his understanding of the historical development of the concept pluralism. Perelman, in good philosophical fashion, situates the origin of this dialectical concept. He suggests that “[t]he problem became important in Europe during the 16th century, when ideas that were prohibited by the social order, and by the law, were nevertheless tolerated” (Perelman 1963, 21). Surprisingly, given Perelman’s rhetorical bent, and the New Rhetoric’s optimistic inquiry into “good reasons,” Perelman does not much concern himself with the specifics of the historical situation. He writes that Reform agendas were “tolerated for various reasons: in some cases because the government or Church were not strong enough to suppress expression of those ideas. It is, however, not the situation, but its philosophical consequences that interest the philosopher and created tolerance as a principle” (Perelman 1963, 21).

Eventually, Perelman believes, tolerance becomes something more than a mere compromise position; existing simply because neither of two opposing sides has sufficient power to overthrow the other. Specifically, Perelman writes:

We speak of tolerance in relation to those expressions of ideas or those actions which are prohibited by law, or go against public opinion. (Perelman 1963, 21).

Such practices are especially important when particular people or groups are harmed by a certain legalistic system—often an ill-treated minority in a majority system not of their making. Tolerance eventually develops as a philosophic position in its own right, when advocates of tolerance place this condition above any other—when, for instance, a Catholic or a Protestant places the “ideal” of tolerance above the teachings of his or her own church. In such cases, virtuous behavior is to be honored over the letter of the law. In The Canonical Scripture, this notion is taken a step further: virtuous behavior is honored but also rewarded, in a system of mutuality. There, we read:

As the era of the grievance resolution comes in, cultivate virtue and treat people well. A felicitous star gives off light upon the deed, which is a way to shelter from disaster (Dharma 2:14).

The tolerant, generous deed is itself, here, rewarded, further reinforcing the system of mutuality. Tolerance, then, serves as the necessary philosophical underpinning for pluralistic societies, and in these societies, tolerance also serves as a practical, pragmatic concern, for “individuals are simultaneously part of several groups which sometimes cooperate and at other times oppose each other” (Perelman 1979, 65). Naturally, whenever people are part of a group, especially when people are simultaneously a part of multiple groups—as we today inevitably are—incidents of grievances multiply. Thus, the values expressed by Daesoon Jinrihoe’s Third Tenet—Resolution of Grievances for Mutual Benefit—play an important part here. The Canonical Scripture remind us time and again of the essential act of resolving grievances that is developed in any community. For example, “Resolve the grievances against your foe and love your foe as your benefactor. Doing so will become a virtue and bring you bliss. Not only will bliss, though, be individually enjoyed” (Dharma 1:56). As in any syncretic system, the resolved grievance is a path forward. For Perelman, the path forward would be, say, a healthy democracy. In Daesoon Thought, the benefits too are manifold, and have even greater potential. For we read in The Canonical Scripture that: “The energy-flow of Heaven and Earth could even be blocked by the grievance of a single person” (Dharma 1:31). What’s more, though, happily: “As the grievances are resolved, there shall not be any obstacles in the Later World” (Reordering Works 2:19). The resolution of grievances, expressed in the third tenet, contribute to individual, and to future, happiness, just as in a system of rhetorical relatedness.

Regressive Philosophies and the Fourth Tenet

The Fourth Tenet of Daesoon Jinrihoe, “Perfected State of Unification with the Dao”, will bring us to a final Perelmanian concept of relational rhetorics, and that is a regressive philosophy of correctable truths. In a classic 1969 article, Ray Dearin explicates the concepts of primary and regressive philosophy, suggesting that—at least in Perelman’s view—most philosophy has been of the primary type; that is, “[e]ach has attempted to construct an edifice of universal, immutable truths. No provision has been made for future modifications” (Dearin 1969, 216). A better model, one Perelman would advocate, would be a regressive philosophy which recognizes “[p]hilosophizing [as] a human endeavor” an endeavor in which “the philosopher will choose from among the alternative possibilities the modifications he deems best” (Dearin 1969, 216). Regressive philosophies, in short, are those which allow the philosopher to admit mistakes and offer modifications. These modifications result in “correctable truths”; such “truths” are tenuous and welcome modification, yet they remain, for the time being, sufficient starting points for philosophical argument. In modifying a “correctable truth,” moreover, the philosopher must argue that a proposed alternation will benefit the system. In Perelman, we find no change-for-change’s sake, for the role of argument must present reasonable warrants, even in debates concerning truths that are not tyrannously absolute but openly malleable.

As Dearin writes, “the philosopher must justify his choice by presenting reasons why it seems preferable to him, if he wishes to obtain the agreement of his peers” (Dearin 1969, 216). The concept of regressive philosophy is enormously important in rhetorics of relatedness because they recognize the importance of growth, new information, change. That which changes and grows is healthy; that which remains static (like a monistic edict) ossifies. The Fourth, and final, Tenet of Daesoon Jinrihoe, recognizes the ongoing nature of this growth, that moving toward a more perfected state. Is an ongoing process and not necessarily one of a straight line? For example, we read in The Canonical Scripture, “The Dao unification and creation of Heaven and Earth are transcendent and constant, and there is a law in advancing or retreating” (The Incantation of Re-creation). This movement of advancing and retreating, in motion, perfecting but not yet perfect, shares with rhetorical relatedness the importance of dynamism in communication, whether it be human or divine.

The Canonical Scripture recognizes that that movement is not always free; there are sometimes agents who wish to arrest the process. Sangje shared with his followers this lesson: “One day, to solidify the progress of the order, Sangje spoke about unification with Dao (dotong, 道通): ‘People did not get to that state in the past. Although Dao cultivators tried to be unified with Dao, they failed it because they were unable to overcome saboteurs” (Progress of the Order 1:40). In a theological system such as Daesoon, of course, such saboteurs are treated with divine justice. On Earth, rhetorical systems establish justice-related arguments. Perelman, a legal scholar as well as a rhetorician, believed that the legal system “should be as close as possible to a formal system” (Perelman 1980, 137). The reason for that is simple: a formal system would prevent caprice and favoritism from entering decisions of justice. Perelman’s basic test of justice and equity can be reduced to the simple concept that two like things must be treated in a like manner: rich treated like the poor; the old treated like the young, etc. As a nation moved toward a fairer system of justice and as the world moved toward a Dao unification, such treatment would be vital. We read, too, in The Canonical Scripture that “Dao-unification is done to reciprocate the virtue of Heaven and Earth,” thus emphasizing, yet again, the importance of mutuality in the Tenets; mutuality, too, is the sine qua non of rhetorics of relatedness (Prophetic Elucidations 88).


We will conclude this article by looking at a short but important Perelman work, “Rhetoric and Politics” and a statement from The Canonical Scripture called “The Charter for Realizing Dao.” Perelman submitted that essay of his to Philosophy and Rhetoric shortly before his death, and it received posthumous publication. In the article, Perelman summarizes the primary concerns of his intellectual career: values, law, rhetoric, justice. In the beginning of the article, Perelman recounts the reasons, as so many rhetoricians have done, that rhetoric fell into disrepute in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and why it is important that the rhetoric be again elevated to a prestigious position. Perelman’s urgency is clear; it is his unshakeable belief that “free society” cannot function without a fair judicial and political system, and that, in order for insidious regimes to be countered, free argument—detailed, explicit argument— must be practiced. Rhetoric and justice, in Perelman’s schema, go hand-in-hand, for there is no such thing as a justice which can be both practical and ideal. A philosopher can envision, must envision, an idealized justice, but the form that must be at work in society is just that, a workaday justice, one which must be negotiated and argued. The role of the rhetor, then, is an exalted one, for he or she must “contribute to the enhancement of values, to create a spiritual communion around common values” (Perelman 1984, 131). That is, rhetoric must take on a relational, reciprocal, mutual character if it is to remain relevant—a rhetoric of relatedness. And this process of argument must be explicit because “[w]e know with what haste totalitarian regimes initiated the pomp, ceremony, processions, and canticles of the church” (Perelman 1984, 132).

The ceremonies of the church draw their grandeur, of course, from “mystery.” For Perelman, a government must not do so. Citizens must come to expect the opposite of mystery; they must expect explicit argumentation. Once citizens expect such explicitness, the task of the “totalitarian regime” becomes more difficult, perhaps impossibly so. Rhetoric helps establish the free society, but it is at every moment, in Perelman’s conception, a rhetoric at the service of philosophy; the two are inseparable in Perelman’s thought. Therefore, Perelman writes: “That is why I am opposed to the idea of a philosopher-king [. . .] because there is no philosophy without freedom of thought, opposed to all forms of constraint” (Perelman 1984, 134). For Perelman, philosophy and rhetoric must work reciprocally in order to encourage mutually beneficial relationships among people and their governments.

A rhetoric of relatedness and mutuality, such as that kind advocated for and developed by Perelman, replaced older form of rhetoric, which depended on lauded orators and grand oratory to with great forcefulness persuade an audience. In that older system, style, flair (and even, too often, deception) counted highly; in. a relational system, those characteristics matter far less. The Canonical Scripture has something to say about that old style of rhetoric, which existed in the East as well as in the West. In the “Charter for Realizing Dao”, we read: “A saint's scripture does not pursue magnificent rhetorical flair but truth. A perfected man's heart seeks authenticity, not superficiality. Therefore, seeking the underlying principle of objects is to seek nature, not artificiality. In this regard, enlightening his mind, a saint reaches Dao, and does not seek fame. When writing, a saint does not seek florid style, and when clothing himself, he does not seek brocades. A mere pursuer of prose cannot attain the mind-dharma of saints, and a man who pursues superficiality cannot attain the truth of saints.” The achievement of rhetorical magnificence by the pursuer of prose is here presented as the opponent of the good and the authentic who stands in the way of perfection. Similarly, for Perelman, the older forms of too-frequently deceptive, grand rhetoric stood in the way of a democratic mutuality. In an untitled essay, known as “Essay XXIV” (Perelman 1951) which is a chapter in a collection called Democracy in A World of Tensions, a collection produced as the result of a United Nations sponsored symposium, Perelman emphasizes the relationship among rhetoric, authenticity, and justice. Because concepts such as justice and democracy are themselves dialectical in nature, their meanings must be constantly negotiated and argued. Perelman writes:

A concept like democracy has no clear meaning in itself. Before agreeing on the use of a term, agreement must be reached on the system of thought within which this concept should be used. The absence of such a common reference system is the main reason why conflicts about words such like ‘democracy’ are possible and why it is apparently so difficult to agree on the subject. (Perelman 1951, 301)

But the difficulty of the search for the meanings of such words should not dissuade the seekers of the good and the authentic. Just as the “Charter for Realizing Dao” expresses, the mere pursuit of prose leads to inauthenticity, but, therefore, the opposite must be true. The pursuer of careful, accurate words, of an honest rhetoric, helps lead to both, in Daesoon Thought, Dao perfection, and, in rhetorical practice, a just, democratic system. Both systems rely on mutuality, and thus much can be learned by a comparative study of the principles of rhetorics of relatedness, such as Perelman, and the Four Tenets of Daesoon Thought.

Conflict of Interest

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.



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