By Kenneth Burke

ISBN-10: 0520015460

ISBN-13: 9780520015463

As critic, Kenneth Burke's preoccupations have been at first basically esthetic and literary; yet after Counter-Statement (1931), he started to discriminate a "rhetorical" or persuasive part in literature, and thereupon grew to become a thinker of language and human conduct.
In A Grammar of Motives (1945) and A Rhetoric of Motives (1950), Burke's notion of "symbolic action" comes into its personal: all human activities--linguisitc or extra-linguistic--are modes of symbolizing; guy is outlined because the symbol-using (and -misusing) animal. The critic's task turns into one of many examining human symbolizing anywhere he unearths it, with the purpose of illuminating human motivation. therefore the succeed in of the literary critic now extends to the social and ethical.
A Grammar of Motives is a "methodical meditation" on such complicated linguistic kinds as performs, tales, poems, theologies, metaphysical structures, political philosophies, constitutions. A Rhetoric of Motives expands the sphere to human methods of persuasion and identity. Persuasion, as Burke sees it, "ranges from the bluntest quest of virtue, as in revenues merchandising or propaganda, via courtship, social etiquette, schooling, and the sermon, to a 'pure' shape that delights within the strategy of charm for itself by myself, with no ulterior objective. And id levels from the flesh presser who, addressing an viewers of farmers, says, 'I was once a farm boy myself,' in the course of the mysteries of social prestige, to the mystic's religious id with the resources of all being."

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As a proposition, it may or may not be true. i TRADITIONAL PRINCIPLES OF RHETORIC 59 the world. But regardless of these doubts about it as a proposition, by the time you arrive at the second of its three stages, you feel how it is destined to develop-and on the level of purely formal assent you would collaborate to round out its symmetry by spontaneously willing its completion and perfection as an utterance. Add, now, the psychosis o£ nationalism, and assent on the formal level invites assent to the proposition as doctrine.

Rhetorical Form in the Large I 1 l There is also persuasive form in the larger sense, formulated as a progression of steps that begins with an exordium designed to secure the good will of one's audience, next states one's own position, then points up the nature of the dispute, then builds up one's own case at length, then refutes the claims of the ad;ersary, and in a final peroration expands and reinforces al1 points in one's favor, while seeking to discredit whatever had favored the adversary (vituperation, irony, and appeal to the emotions also being drawn upon here).

But actually, many o£ the "opinions" upon which persuasion relies fa11 outside the test of truth in the strictly scientific, T-F, yes-or-no sense. Thus, if a given audience has a strong opinion that a certain kind of conduct is admirable, the orator can commend a person by using signs that identify him with such conduct. "Opinion" in this ethical sense clearly falls on the bias across the matter of "truth" in the strictly scientific sense. O£ course, a speaker may be true or false in identifying a person by some particular sign of virtuous conduct.

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A Rhetoric of Motives by Kenneth Burke


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