Rhetoric of Motives

ISBN-10: 0520015460
ISBN-13: 9780520015463
Edition: 1969 (Reprint)
Authors: Kenneth Burke
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Description: As critic, Kenneth Burke's preoccupations were at the beginning purely esthetic and literary; but afterCounter-Statement(1931), he began to discriminate a "rhetorical" or persuasive component in literature, and thereupon became a philosopher of  More...

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Book details

List price: $31.95
Copyright year: 1969
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 10/1/1969
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 356
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.100
Language: English

As critic, Kenneth Burke's preoccupations were at the beginning purely esthetic and literary; but afterCounter-Statement(1931), he began to discriminate a "rhetorical" or persuasive component in literature, and thereupon became a philosopher of language and human conduct. InA Grammar of Motives(1945) andA Rhetoric of Motives(1950), Burke's conception of "symbolic action" comes into its own: all human activities--linguisitc or extra-linguistic--are modes of symbolizing; man is defined as the symbol-using (and -misusing) animal. The critic's job becomes one of the interpreting human symbolizing wherever he finds it, with the aim of illuminating human motivation. Thus the reach of the literary critic now extends to the social and ethical. A Grammar of Motivesis a "methodical meditation" on such complex linguistic forms as plays, stories, poems, theologies, metaphysical systems, political philosophies, constitutions.A Rhetoric of Motivesexpands the field to human ways of persuasion and identification. Persuasion, as Burke sees it, "ranges from the bluntest quest of advantage, as in sales promotion or propaganda, through courtship, social etiquette, education, and the sermon, to a 'pure' form that delights in the process of appeal for itself alone, without ulterior purpose. And identification ranges from the politician who, addressing an audience of farmers, says, 'I was a farm boy myself,' through the mysteries of social status, to the mystic's devout identification with the sources of all being."

Born in Pittsburgh, Burke was educated at Ohio State and Columbia universities. During his early career, he became involved with a number of little magazines, including Broom and Secession. He also wrote for The Dial and The Nation as a music critic. His greatest fame, however, has been as a literary critic. Omnivorously eclectic, Burke has found in the analysis of human symbolic activities a key to the largest cultural issues. For Burke, literature is the most prominent and sophisticated form of "symbolic action," one that provides "equipment for living" by allowing us to try out hypothetical strategies for dealing with the endless variety of human situations and experiences. Human society demands some principle of order, but the language and reason that create order can fall into rigid abstractions that can be destructive and violently imposed. Literature shows us an image of sacrifice, forgiveness, and flexibility that plays an important role in keeping society functioning flexibly. Burke's writing is extensive, complex and wide ranging, but also unique and uniquely important among current critical approaches.

The Range of Rhetoric
Traditional Principles of Rhetoric
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