By Kenneth Burke
As critic, Kenneth Burke's preoccupations have been before everything in simple 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 belief 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 activity turns into one of many analyzing human symbolizing anyplace he reveals it, with the purpose of illuminating human motivation. therefore the achieve of the literary critic now extends to the social and ethical.
A Grammar of Motives is a "methodical meditation" on such complicated linguistic types as performs, tales, poems, theologies, metaphysical structures, political philosophies, constitutions. A Rhetoric of Motives expands the sector to human methods of persuasion and id. Persuasion, as Burke sees it, "ranges from the bluntest quest of virtue, as in revenues advertising or propaganda, via courtship, social etiquette, schooling, and the sermon, to a 'pure' shape that delights within the means of charm for itself by myself, with no ulterior goal. 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 identity with the resources of all being."
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Additional resources for A Rhetoric of Motives
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.
And arguments from example (which is the rhetorical equivalent for induction) are likewise to be framed in accordance with his various lists of opinions. (Incidentally, those who talk of "ethical relativity" must be impressed by the "permanence" of such "places" or topics, when stated at Aristotle's leve1 of generalization. ) (_ ,/ 57 Aristotle also considers another kind of "topic," got by the manipulation of tactical procedures, by following certain rules o£ thumb for inventing, developing, or transforming an expression, by pun-logic, even by specious and sophistical arguments.
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.