carnivalous: February 2005 Archives

Rhetrickery = Cookery?

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Mike caught me in a bit of sloppiness in a comment over at his site this past week, and I thought I'd see if I couldn't redeem myself here. While I can't claim the background in classical rhetoric that Mike has, I'd like to explore my intuition that Booth is making a move toward Platonism in RoR. The original passage where he self-identifies as Platonic is fairly qualified:

The history of philosophy has been full of debates about whether some value judgments deserve to be added to this category of hard, unchangeable fact. Saving that issue for chapter 4, I must confess here, as much of my previous work reveals, that I am strongly on the "Platonic" side: torturing a child to death for the sheer pleasure of it is always wrong, and that fact will never be changed by any form of rhetoric. Slavery will always be wrong, no matter how many cultures practice it. Though rhetoric is needed to change minds about such truths--they're only in effect discovered through centuries of catastrophe and discussion about it--they are still for me part of unchangeable reality (13).

It's fair, I think, to say that, over at vitia, I placed more weight on the word "Platonic" than it was intended to bear. And yet. And yet.


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I've got several lines of thought I'm looking to trace out, but I'm going to start with what's a relatively minor point, one that allows me to get a little snark out of the way. The listening that Booth advocates is largely undifferentiated in RoR--in other words, there's little account here of the fact that, even in deeply committed listening, we bump against what Burke (following Veblen) calls our "trained incapacities." A kinder way of describing this phenomenon is to say that our radar is more alert to some things than to others.



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This page is a archive of entries in the carnivalous category from February 2005.

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