Virtually self-educated after high school, among the writers/artists in Greenwich Village. Also did numerous physical jobs. Lived his life on a farm. Original literary work was as a translator, editor, writer at THE DIAL in the 20's. His early writing was particularly tied to literary criticism. Fully interdisciplinary, but a specialist in symbol systems and symbolic action.
1931: COUNTER-STATEMENT in which he views literature as not only an end in itself, but as a piece of rhetoric and of self-revelation about the author.
1935: PERMANENCE AND CHANGE human relations in general, seen through the eyes of a symbolic literary critic. Introduces "perspectives by incongruity"--merging categories of unlike perspectives (a metaphorical move).
1937: began teaching in earnest.
1945: A GRAMMAR OF MOTIVES dealing with the intrinsic nature of a work focusing on dramatism and the pentad.
1950: A RHETORIC OF MOTIVES dealing with strategies for persuasion, esp. identification.
1961: RHETORIC OF RELIGION marks his shift from poetry to theology as the model for logology
1966: LANGUAGE AS SYMBOLIC ACTION a collection of his writing.
a.The symbolic construction of social reality.
b. Intersubjectivity replaces both objectivity and subjectivity.
c. Rhetoric replaces dialectic as the operative mode.
The animal moves; the human motivates, mediates, and defines that ction with symbols. One must be free to act; there must be the will to act; there must also be motion.
"The use of words by human agents to form attitudes or induce actions in other human agents." "the use of language as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation in beings that by nature respond tosymbols."
a. As different than persuasion: consubstantiality (compensation for division; still within the terms of the logology).
b. As a concern which more fully involves non-public modes.
c. A new definition for Rhetoric? The generation and fulfillment of expectations through the use of symbols (forms)
Rooted in the notion of substances (physical objects, occupations, friends, activities, beliefs, values) which we share with those with whom we associate. Sharing substances makes us consubstantial with others. There are various possible substantial connections among and between interactants. Our symbolic ways for marking consubstantiality are identifications, upon which rhetorical action is based: "you persuade a man only insofar as you can talk his language by speech, gesture, tonality, order, image, attitude, idea, IDENTIFYING your ways with his." Here, identification is a supplement to persuasion. Burke puts this more strongly--he might say that identification replaces persuasion.
d. Three ways to use identification
i. as a means to an end
ii. to create antithesis (against some common foe)
iii. unconsciously and/or out of the conscious awareness of sender and/or receiver
The individual centrality of the nervous system is such that we are separate--seeking to be consubstantial. Division provides a basic motive for rhetoric. Identification is rooted in division, such that rhetoric seeks to serve as a bridge.
Although rhetoric may be purposive, it is often subtly unconscious
Inter-and-Intra personal communication can be rhetorical
Spoken, written, ritual, literature, arts, "discourse" forms including everyday episodes. Also nonverbal: Not in the base doing BUT IN THE MEANING OF THE ACT. "Wherever there is persuasion, there is rhetoric. And wherever there is 'meaning' there is persuasion." Burke is one of the primary theorists who lets the rope out for rhetoric
Naming/definingsituations. "A strategy for encompassing situations--an answer to the questions posed by the situation." And a creative strategy for dealing with situations and solving problems inherent in them. Rhetoric helps both speaker and listener to chart the course for their action. Rhetoric also presents a "style" to the answer--more than strategy, there is tone.
Creation of appetite and the fulfilling of the desires. The listener anticipates, participates in, and is gratified by the sequence. Identification results from an interaction of form and content. Through participation in its form, a rhetorical work induces tensions and expectations.
Three types of form:
a. conventional "built-in" expectations.
b. Repetitive "restatement in different ways"
c. Progressive stepwise anticipation which can be either syllogistic (quantitative) or qualitative.
A key metaphor as an account for motives such that language and thought are treated as modes of action.
a. Communication actions are motivated.
b. Motives are the factors which give meaning to motion-- actions arise from motives.
c. Systems of motives serve as terministic screens: they are linguistic products which provide patterns for interpreting life's activities.
d. Why? Because of the logologic of man's symbolic resources
i. If order, then guilt; if guilt, then the need for redemption; but any such 'payment' is victimage, feeding back into the cycle.
ii. If action, then drama, then conflict; if conflict then victimage, and feeding back.
e. Why? Because of the definition of man.
i. symbol using (making, misusing) animal
ii. inventor of the negative (moralizes)
iii. separated from natural condition by instruments of his own making.
iv. goaded by the spirit of hierarchy (moved by order)
v. rotten with perfection.
A grammar of five key terms through which one can explain the motivation in symbolic action: act, agent, agency, scene, purpose, and sometimes attitude (manner). The term ratio is key: although it is somewhat interesting to be able to describe and label elements of the pentad, Burke's stress is on the appropriate relationships among the elements: there should be causality among the terms, depending on their distribution.
a. Once one identifies the order-guilt logologic, one needs to be able to get inside the cycle to understand/explain it.
b. The tool for doing that is the pentad.
Bound in his definition of man: Moving from dramatism to philology, especically by way of theology. The guilt-purification-redemption-rebirth cycle transcends the pentad as symbolic motive. We seek consubstantiality/identification due to the effects of who and what we are: the cycle encourages us to share is aspects. For Burke, the moral/spiritual world is the work of language: language invented the negative, established value systems, calls for moral action.
a. Hierarchy (obedience and communication): we do construct action from this motive perfection: the top is top
b. terministic screens: we come to see the world as our symbol systems enable us to see it
c. mystery: (hides and suggests so as to cover and uncover)