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242Philosophy and Literature Rhetoric, Philosophy, and Literature: An Exploration, edited by Don M. Burks; xiii & 115 pp. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 1978, $7.50. Rhetoric is a subject unlikely to satisfy those with a penchant for clear concepts and distinct inter-topical boundaries. Readers who agree with this view will not find it much disturbed by this collection of six essays, each of which originated as an invited component of what the editor describes as "an interdisciplinary seminar" which met at Purdue University in 1974, the proposed "unifying concept" of which was that of rhetoric (p. ix). Speech and communication are the chief interests of two contributors (Lloyd F. Bitzer and Donald C. Bryant); there are two philosophers (Henry W. Johnstone, Jr. and Maurice Natanson); a professor of English (Wayne C. Booth); and the literary critic Kenneth Burke. Each essay in this collection may be seen as an independent venture of its author, setting out his views in his own idiom. Even so, thematic ties from one essay to another and positions held in common will spring to the reader's notice. Or one may actively seek to consolidate the materials of the essays, to "reduce" the idioms to a single terminology, in pursuit of a theory of rhetoric. Some of the rewards of each emphasis follow. Natanson ("The Arts of Indirection") conceives of indirection as "the pursuit of an intersubjective truth in a distinctively subjective way" (p. 36). This concept serves to explicate and defend his thesis that "there is an internal connection between what we learn and the way in which we learn it . . . " (p. 35). "Indirection as a rhetorical art" is one of four "arts" centered in indirection; it has close kinship with indirection both as a "philosophical" and as a "pedagogic" art. These three use language, in ways subtly contrasted by the author, both to convey a subject matter and to establish its vitality for an audience. The fourth, "indirection as a mundane art," well displays the public nature of the contexts in which all four "arts" are practiced. The concern with indirection is shared with Booth, the only contributor who makes no explicit reference to rhetoric, in his delightful and instructive introduction to an analysis of irony ("The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Irony: Or, Why Don't You Say What You Mean?"). Natanson's stress on public context provides a helpful contact with the essays of Bitzer ("Rhetoric and Public Knowledge") and Bryant ("Literature and Politics"). Bitzer draws upon Dewey's concept of a public, and comes to regard "public knowledge" as not only a body of knowledge, assumptions, and values necessary for the functioning of rhetoric, but as well an entity to be developed and shaped by rhetoric to the end of solving urgent social and political problems. Bryant's interest in "the reunion of wisdom and eloquence" (p. 107) is discerningly illustrated with references to Edmund Burke and Churchill, among others. Readers drawn to the second emphasis will find Johnstone's essay ("From Philosophy to Rhetoric and Back") quite illuminating. The reviewer may reveal his bias in favor of analyses of rhetoric by philosophers in saying that this is the best essay of the six. It examines a significant metâphilosophical problem Shorter Reviews243 with clarity and directness, merits not uniformly distributed in this collection. The problem, in its broadest statement, is that of exposing and assessing the contexts within which the arguments and discussions of philosophers reside. The contrast of rationalism and empiricism as philosophical contexts, for example, is in an essential way a contrast of rhetorics. A rhetoric is not just a vehicle for philosophical truths: "Rhetoric is discovery as well as presentation or persuasion" (p. 63). Continuing the second emphasis, Johnstone's essay, because of its separation of the internal and external properties of arguments, has the potential for the development of a kind of conceptual map on which it may be possible to locate, among other things, Natanson's account of indirection, Booth's analysis of irony, and Kenneth Burke's discussion of metaphor ("Rhetoric, Poetics, and Philosophy"). University of Michigan—DearbornEdward M. Sayles Conrad: The Moral World ofthe Novelist, by R. A. Gekoski; ix & 206 pp. New York...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 242-243
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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