A Rhetoric of Motives by Kenneth Burke

By Kenneth Burke

As critic, Kenneth Burke's preoccupations have been initially only 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 perception 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 examining human symbolizing anyplace he reveals 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 varieties as performs, tales, poems, theologies, metaphysical platforms, 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 merchandising or propaganda, via courtship, social etiquette, schooling, and the sermon, to a 'pure' shape that delights within the strategy of charm for itself on my own, with out ulterior objective. And identity levels from the baby-kisser who, addressing an viewers of farmers, says, 'I was once a farm boy myself,' throughout the mysteries of social prestige, to the mystic's religious id with the assets of all being."

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And he has been saying: For purposes o£ praise or blame, the rhetorician will asume that qualities closely resembling any o£ these qualities are identical with them. For instance, to arouse dislike for a cautious man, one should present him as cold and designing. Or to make a simpleton lovable, play up his good nature. Or speak of quarrelsomeness as frankness, or of arrogance as poise and dignity, or o£ foolhardiness as courage, and of squandering as generosity. Also, he says, we should consider the audience before whom we are thus passing judgment: for it's hard to praise Athenians when you are talking to Lacedaemonians.

And in whatever other ways your high eloquence can affect the minds of your hearers, bringing them not merely to know what should be done, but to do what they know should be done. Yet often we could with more accuracy speak of persuasion tude," rather than persuasion to out-and-out action. Persuasion involves choice, will; it is directed to a man only insofar as he is free. This is good to remember, in these days of dictatorship anañiar-dictatorship. Only insofar as men are potentially free, must the spellbinder seek to persuade them.

While in general the truer and better cause has the advantage, he observes, no cause can be adequately defended without ski11 in the tricks of the trade. So he studies thGe tricks frim the pÜ;dy techñital o£ view, without referente to any one fixed position such as marks Augustine's analysis of the Christian persuasion. " This "agonisticn emphasis is naturally strong in Cicero, much of whose 7 / -3 . d ' 53 treatise is written out of his experiencesin the Senate and the law courts. It is weaker in Quintilian with his educational emphasis; yet his account of eloquence frequently relies on military and gladiatorial images.

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