[KB] Hottentots Redux

Edward C Appel edwardcappel at frontier.com
Tue Dec 9 20:39:36 EST 2014


I think Burke would say that the human body in (morally) purposeful motion, and the artifacts that dramatic physical action can result in, have suasive potency as well as vocal, written, and gestural symbolizations (gestural symbolizations being nonlinguistic in a sense as well).  Note in RM Burke's take on the "message" inherent in the tallest buildings in modern cities, towers of commerce, compared with the materially transcendent cathedrals of the Middle Ages.

Note, too, p. 172 in the Rhetoric: "Considering together Ovid, Machiavelli, and the rhetorical ingredient in medicine, we could sum upn by the proposition that, in all such partly verbal, partly nonverbal kinds of rhetorical devices, the nonverbal element also persuades by reason of its symbolic character.  Paper may not KNOW THE MEANING of fire in order to burn.  But in the "idea" of fire there is a persuasive ingredient.  By this route something of the rhetorical motive comes to 'lurk' in every 'meaning,' however purely 'scientific' its pretensions.  Wherever there is persuasion, there is rhetoric.  And wherever there is 'meaning,' there is 'persuasion'" (emphasis not added).

Do recall the droll title of one of the articles Rueckert reprints in his miscellany of criticism of Burke: "Burke, Burke, the Lurk."

On Mon, 12/8/14, Carrol Cox <cbcox at ilstu.edu> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [KB] Hottentots Redux
 To: kb at kbjournal.org
 Date: Monday, December 8, 2014, 7:32 PM
 Query. When Burke speaks
 of persuasion, does he limit himself to persuasion through
 verbal discourse? The process Ed summarizes here seems to
 cite discourse only as a symptom or sin of a social fact.
 For example: would the continuing demonstrations against
 police brutality of the last few months _encorage_ more
 police shootings, as police become more aware of the
 "popularity" of the act among other police? Or,
 for another possible example, had the crowds at executions
 during the French Reign of Terror been _smaller_ would that
 have generated less popular support for the Terror? Or what
 about high-school social cliques, the singling out of the
 "more popular" making them "more
 Is rhetoric
 a function of language or  . . . .?
 -----Original Message-----
 From: kb-bounces at kbjournal.org
 [mailto:kb-bounces at kbjournal.org]
 On Behalf Of Edward C Appel
 Sent: Monday,
 December 08, 2014 4:07 PM
 To: kb at kbjournal.org
 Subject: [KB] Hottentots Redux
 In the current edition of the
 Primer, I added an addendum to Chapter 1.  It’s entitled,
 “More on Purpose as a Negative and a Command.”  This
 extended note elaborates on the declarative as an implicit
 imperative, a theme Burke puts front and center in the
 opening of PLF (pp. 1-8).  There, Burke describes the
 hortatory dimensions of seemingly innocent and detached
 “statements of fact,” the arm-twisting “decree” a
 supposedly “objective” report functions as, the
 incentive not only to “see things this way,” but also to
 “act on this declaration as summons.”  Burke
 illustrates “the secret commands and exhortations in
 words” with a quote from Carnap, by way of Edward M.
 Maisel.  Statements merely asserting the superiority of the
 race of Hottentots “should be analytically translated as,
 ‘Members of the race of Hottentots!  Unite and battle to
 dominate the other races!’  The facts of historical
 assertion here,” Burke goes on,  “are but a strategy of
 inducement; apparently describing the SCENE for the action
 of a drama, they are themselves a dramatic ACT PRODDING TO
 ANOTHER DRAMATIC ACT” (p. 5; emphasis not added).
 Interesting empirical support
 for Burke’s case appeared in yesterday’s New York Times
 (“Sunday Review,” or whatever it’s called): “When
 Talking about Bias Backfires,” by Adam Grant and Sheryl
 Sandberg.  Grant teaches at Wharton in U. Penn.  The
 authors cite the results of several integrated studies that
 show, “Hearing that discrimination is common is a license
 [read: incentive] to do it.”  Meaning: The “factual”
 statement that most people are prejudiced results in more
 prejudicial responses by readers of such reports.  When the
 stated “facts” of the matter are accompanied by
 admonitions not to go and do likewise, reader prejudice
 diminishes, judging by the reactions these experiments
 The online
 version of this piece might have a December 6th date,
 instead of December 7th.
 Needless to say,
 Burke’s name was not invoked by these researchers.
 KB mailing list
 KB at kbjournal.org
 KB mailing list
 KB at kbjournal.org

More information about the KB mailing list