Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent

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University of Chicago Press, Oct 15, 1974 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 235 pages
2 Reviews
When should I change my mind? What can I believe and what must I doubt? In this new "philosophy of good reasons" Wayne C. Booth exposes five dogmas of modernism that have too often inhibited efforts to answer these questions. Modern dogmas teach that "you cannot reason about values" and that "the job of thought is to doubt whatever can be doubted," and they leave those who accept them crippled in their efforts to think and talk together about whatever concerns them most. They have willed upon us a "befouled rhetorical climate" in which people are driven to two self-destructive extremes—defenders of reason becoming confined to ever narrower notions of logical or experimental proof and defenders of "values" becoming more and more irresponsible in trying to defend the heart, the gut, or the gonads.

Booth traces the consequences of modernist assumptions through a wide range of inquiry and action: in politics, art, music, literature, and in personal efforts to find "identity" or a "self." In casting doubt on systematic doubt, the author finds that the dogmas are being questioned in almost every modern discipline. Suggesting that they be replaced with a rhetoric of "systematic assent," Booth discovers a vast, neglected reservoir of "good reasons"—many of them known to classical students of rhetoric, some still to be explored. These "good reasons" are here restored to intellectual respectability, suggesting the possibility of widespread new inquiry, in all fields, into the question, "When should I change my mind?"
  

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Favorite book to date. Beautiful and relatble writing that cut right to the fundamental issues of effective communication. Can't wait to read more from him! Read full review

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Temporarily I'll say only that I look forward to reading it again. Read full review

Contents

II
3
III
12
IV
14
V
22
VI
24
VII
31
VIII
43
IX
47
XXI
126
XXII
137
XXIII
141
XXIV
143
XXV
145
XXVI
154
XXVII
158
XXVIII
164

X
50
XI
55
XII
66
XIII
77
XIV
82
XV
87
XVI
90
XVII
101
XIX
106
XX
111
XXIX
168
XXX
180
XXXI
187
XXXII
192
XXXIII
197
XXXIV
205
XXXV
207
XXXVI
213
XXXVII
219
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About the author (1974)

Wayne C. Booth (1921–2005) was the George Pullman Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. His many books include The Rhetoric of Fiction, A Rhetoric of Irony, The Power and Limits of Pluralism, The Vocation of a Teacher, and For the Love of It, all published by the University of Chicago Press.