Absurd Ambitions

"Consciousness of linguistic action generally is needed if men are to temper the absurd ambitions that have their source in faulty terminologies" (317).

On absence and power

But there is cause to believe that, in banishing the term, far from banishing its functions one merely conceals them. Hence, from the dramatistic point of view, we are admonished to dwell upon the word, considering its embarrassments and its potentialities of transformation, so that we may detect its covert influence even in cases where it is absent.

(GoM, 21)

Grammar of Motives

“Random or unsystematic statements about motives could be considered as fragments of philosophy.” (Burke xvi)

The Philosophy of Literary Form

“I fear that metaphysics, gentlemen, is a living lie. What does the metaphysician do? He begins, like any artist, with himself and his corresponding set of values. Then he figures out what the world ought to be such and such if these values are to be imbued with universal validity.”

paradox of substance

Here obviously is a strategic moment, an alchemic moment, wherein momentous miracles of transformation can take place. For here the intrinsic and the extrinsic can take place. To tell what a thing is, you place it in terms of something else. This idea of locating, or placing, is implicit in our very word for definition itself: to define, or determine a thing, is to mark its boundaries, hence to use terms that possess, implicitly at least, contextual reference.

The Money Motive and Play

The money motive also had the advantage of being more nearly neutral than the motives of slavery and religion. For instead of drawing upon feelings so strong as those of fear or devotion, it could motivate merely by presenting an "opportunity." And though the work might "in itself" be drudgery, in time this shortcoming was rectified by the growth of the "amusement industry" to the point where it formed one of the biggest investments in our entire culture.

(Grammar of Motives 93)

Supersizing the Mind

Clark, Andy. Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011. Print. 286 pages. ISBN: 978-0-19-977368-8. $61.51 hardcover, $18.25 paperback (Amazon.com).

Reciprocal acts and agents

. . . the sheer nature of an office, or position, is said to produce important modifications in a mans character. Even a purely symbolic act, such as the donning of priestly vestments, is often credited with such a result. (GoM, 16)

The Scene-Act Ratio

I shall start at the very beginning: "Using the 'scene' in the sense of setting, or background, and 'act' in the sense of action, one could say that 'the scene contains the act'. And using agents in the sense of actors, or acters, one could say that 'the scene contains the agents'" (GOM 3).

poima, pathema, and mathema

“We can discern something of the “tragic” grammar behind the Greek prover’s way of saying “one learns by experience”; “ta pathemata mathemata,” the suffered is the learned. We can also catch glimpses of a relation between dialectic and mathematics (a kind that might have figured in Plato’s stress upon mathematics) in the fact that mathemata means both things learned in general and the mathematical sciences (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy) in particular.

Pages

Subscribe to RCID 813: Kenneth Burke RSS