In a world of ever-increasing digital and rhetorical complexity, Rhetoric, Technology and the Virtues leverages the classical, Aristotelian conception of virtue ethics to aid our understanding of the pursuit of ethical good in modern, digitally mediated contexts. Researchers and theorists from a wide range of disciplines (rhetoric, technical communication, composition, communication, etc.) will benefit from an updated and timely application of hexeis to reconceive of ethical good in networked, collaborative spaces as well as a superbly-curated reader of the intersection between virtue ethics and postmodern thought. Through this book, Jared Colton and Steve Holmes are able to animate a long-unsettled discussion of the interrelationship between digitalia and virtue to the benefit of scholars facing an increasingly sophisticated digital society.
Graduate students in rhetoric and composition, technical communication, and even philosophy will find an innovative example of the resuscitation of classical philosophy and rhetoric for contemporary contexts as well as a dexterous review of postmodern thought and thinkers. When the authors ask, "how and in what way should digital rhetoricians consider forms of networked collaboration… and other digital practices to be ethical goods?" (p. 3), they provoke a question which looms over the heads of every graduate student in the humanities as they interrogate and inhabit progressively complex digital paracosms. By envisioning the habits of thought which amalgamate to comprise our hexeis, and that in turn shape our ethical behaviors on a systemic level, Colton and Holmes are able to provide a valuable supplementary framework for negotiating thought and action in rhetorical systems resting on the liminality between personal and communal, ethical and unethical, and digital and analog which are of increasing concerns to students, and citizens, everywhere.
What would Aristotle make of our modern world? While it's hard to say with any sense of certainty, what we do know is that he urged us all to cultivate ethical hexeis—or habits—to not just guide, but make habitual, our virtuous actions. Complex as modernia (and digitalia) may be, Aristotle's hexeis are no less urgent, and Aristotelian virtue ethics no less relevant, today than in the ancient polys. While Rhetoric, Technology and the Virtues is undoubtedly an academic work aimed at scholars and students, there is no escaping the fact that we all continue to inhabit digital, networked spaces where the lines between ethical and unethical are blurred by oscillatory forms of communication and fluctuating ethical motives. In "grounding digital rhetoric ethics in users' habits and practices" (p. 19), Colton and Holmes are able to sketch a practical guide to rhetorical and ethical action which offers scholars, students, and users the opportunity to consider the ethical complexity of their own activity as they reconsider the neglected ethical paradigm of Aristotelian virtue ethics.