A Rhetoric of Motives by Kenneth Burke

By Kenneth Burke

As critic, Kenneth Burke's preoccupations have been at first in basic terms 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 anyplace he reveals it, with the purpose of illuminating human motivation. hence 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 sector to human methods of persuasion and identity. Persuasion, as Burke sees it, "ranges from the bluntest quest of virtue, as in revenues promoting or propaganda, via courtship, social etiquette, schooling, and the sermon, to a 'pure' shape that delights within the strategy of attraction for itself on my own, with out ulterior function. And identity levels from the flesh presser who, addressing an viewers of farmers, says, 'I used to be a farm boy myself,' during the mysteries of social prestige, to the mystic's religious id with the resources of all being."

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Also, the process was purely verbal; hence in Aristotle's view it would be an art, not a science, since each science has its own particular extraverbal subject matter. The Socratic method was J better suited for such linguistic enterprises as the dialectical search for "ideas" of justice, truth, beauty, and so on, than for the accumulating of knowledge derived from empirical observation and laboratory experiment. Dialectic of this sort was concerned with "ideology" in the "' primary sense of the term: the study of ideas and of their relation to l one another.

Repeat the same word at the beginning of successive phrases, and you have epanaphora. And so on. Croce seems to have taken this terminology of piecemeal effects as the very essence of rhetoric. " The rhetorical devices can become obtrusive, sheer decadent decoration (as during the era of the "second sophistic" in Rome); but we have offered reasons for believing that even the most ostentatious o£ them arose oct of great functional urgency. When pagan rhetoric gre& weak, such verbal exercising could be sought for itself alone, for its appeal as a display of virtuosity.

Cicero likens his lists of devices to weapons, which can be used for threat and attack, or can be brandished purely for show. He also mentions severa1 kinds of repetition with variation (the highly inflected nature of Latin, with its corresponding freedom of word order, allows readily for many such effects which English can approximate only with difficulty). And he continues (we quote the Loeb Classicd Library translation by H. Rackham, from which we adapted the previous citation) : There is also advance step by step (gradatio), and inversion (transposition, metathesis, conuersio), and harmonious interchange o£ words, and antithesis (contrarium), and omission o£ particles (dissoZutum), and change o£ subject (declinatio), and self-correction (reprehensio), and exclamation (exclamatio), and abbreviation (imminutio), and the use o£ a noun in severa1 cases [an English equivalent would be Mead's sloganlike formula, "An '1' contemplating its 'me' "l.

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