Based on a rhetorical approach, claiming that shared values and beliefs work not only for communication but also for verbal efficacy, this essay explores the constructive functions of doxa in literary and nonliterary genres of discourse. Instead of condemning commonplaces in the name of innovation, or of denouncing collective representations by exposing their ideological foundations, the analysis of argumentation in discourse views doxa as an essential ingredient of all literature, classical and modern. This essay raises first the question of the nature of doxa: is it an orderly whole to be reconstructed as such or an aggregate of elements participating in a loose intertext? Is it the expression of a universal common sense or the mark of a given sociohistorical worldview? There follows an attempt at a taxonomy to provide some tools for text analysis. Rhetorical topoi as empty structures(Aristotle's topoï koinoï) are distinguished from pragmatical topoi in Oswald Ducrot's sense and from commonplaces in the positive sense of the term; the notions of idée reçue,of cliché, and of stereotype are described and reinterpreted in an argumentative perspective stressing their fundamental role in human communication. Expressed through a series of implicit and explicit forms–previously discussed within different disciplines and here integrated in a coherent model of text analysis–doxa appears as a condition of intersubjectivity and as a constitutive element of any verbal interaction.

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