A Rhetoric of Motives

Front Cover
University of California Press, 1969 - Literary Criticism - 340 pages
15 Reviews
As critic, Kenneth Burke's preoccupations were at the beginning purely esthetic and literary; but after Counter-Statement (1931), he began to discriminate a "rhetorical" or persuasive component in literature, and thereupon became a philosopher of language and human conduct.

In A Grammar of Motives (1945) and A Rhetoric of Motives (1950), Burke's conception of "symbolic action" comes into its own: all human activities--linguisitc or extra-linguistic--are modes of symbolizing; man is defined as the symbol-using (and -misusing) animal. The critic's job becomes one of the interpreting human symbolizing wherever he finds it, with the aim of illuminating human motivation. Thus the reach of the literary critic now extends to the social and ethical.

A Grammar of Motives is a "methodical meditation" on such complex linguistic forms as plays, stories, poems, theologies, metaphysical systems, political philosophies, constitutions. A Rhetoric of Motives expands the field to human ways of persuasion and identification. Persuasion, as Burke sees it, "ranges from the bluntest quest of advantage, as in sales promotion or propaganda, through courtship, social etiquette, education, and the sermon, to a 'pure' form that delights in the process of appeal for itself alone, without ulterior purpose. And identification ranges from the politician who, addressing an audience of farmers, says, 'I was a farm boy myself,' through the mysteries of social status, to the mystic's devout identification with the sources of all being."
 

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Review: A Rhetoric of Motives

User Review  - Kathy Elrick - Goodreads

I only give it four stars because of the organization of it - otherwise, the thoughts are foundational and extensive. A good intro to new possible outlooks on an old topic of rhetoric. Read full review

Review: A Rhetoric of Motives

User Review  - Carl Laamanen - Goodreads

An important work, necessary for its time, but can come off as a bit unseemly today, considering most of us are fully aware of rhetoric's ubiquity. Read full review

Contents

THE RANGE OF RHETORIC
3
Quality of Arnolds Imagery
9
Tragic Terms for Personality Types
15
The Identifying Natureof Property
23
The Autonomy of Science
29
Ingenuous and Cunning Identifications
35
Realistic Function of Rhetoric
43
TRADITIONAL PRINCIPLES OF RHETORIC
49
ORDER
183
Ultimate Elements in the Marxist Persuasion
189
Sociology of Knowledge vs Platonic Myth
197
Mythic Ground and Context of Situation
203
Socioanagogic Interpretation of Venus and Adonis
212
Castiglione
221
Kafka The Castle
233
A Dialectical Lyric Kierkegaards Fear and Trembling
244

Identification
55
Formal Appeal
65
Imagination
78
Image and Idea
84
Rhetorical Analysis in Bentham
90
Marx on Mystification
101
Terministic Reservations in View of Cromwells Motives
110
Empson on Pastoral Identification
123
Priority of the Idea
132
Diderot on Pantomime
142
De Gourmont on Dissociation
149
Administrative Rhetoric in Machiavelli
158
Dantes De Vulgari Eloquentia
167
Infancy Mystery and Persuasion
174
The Kill and the Absurd
252
Order the Secret and the Kill
260
Pure Persuasion
267
Rhetorical Radiance of the Divine
294
SOCIAL RATING OF IMAGES IN JAMES
296
RHETORICAL NAMES FOR GOD
298
THE RANGE OF MOUNTINGS
301
ELATION AND ACCIDIE IN HOPKINS
313
YEATS I BYZANTIUM AND THE LAST POEMS
316
early poems and Quartets
318
principle of the oxymoron
324
ultimate identification
328
Copyright

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About the author (1969)

Born in Pittsburgh, Burke was educated at Ohio State and Columbia universities. During his early career, he became involved with a number of little magazines, including Broom and Secession. He also wrote for The Dial and The Nation as a music critic. His greatest fame, however, has been as a literary critic. Omnivorously eclectic, Burke has found in the analysis of human symbolic activities a key to the largest cultural issues. For Burke, literature is the most prominent and sophisticated form of "symbolic action," one that provides "equipment for living" by allowing us to try out hypothetical strategies for dealing with the endless variety of human situations and experiences. Human society demands some principle of order, but the language and reason that create order can fall into rigid abstractions that can be destructive and violently imposed. Literature shows us an image of sacrifice, forgiveness, and flexibility that plays an important role in keeping society functioning flexibly. Burke's writing is extensive, complex and wide ranging, but also unique and uniquely important among current critical approaches.

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