ERIC Number: ED339047
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Rhetorical Theory in the 21st Century.
Brock, Bernard L.
Kenneth Burke, in his book "Permanence and Change" (1935) predicted that, as a result of the dehumanizing and alienation of people by technology, the 300-year reign of science that supplanted the age of religion and still prevails today would be replaced by poetic humanism as the new orientation. Current changes within rhetorical theory as a discipline must be identified to determine whether or not contemporary rhetorical theory is moving toward poetic humanism and away from science. A brief comparison of traditional and more recent theorists presented in "Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric" (by S. Foss and others) supports a trend in rhetorical theory away from science and toward poetic humanism. Stephen Toulmin and Chaim Perelman are directly associated with the field of argumentation, and their "rational" approach to rhetoric suggests a close relationship with science since science emphasizes "rationality." Ernesto Grassi's humanism centers on the process of people gaining control over nature. Jurgen Habermas reacts against the supremacy of "scientism" and presents hermeneutics to provide more methodological balance. Michel Foucault claims that discursive formations are central to all knowledge and power in society, thus providing rhetoric a central role in daily activity. The complex and subjective nature of Foucault's archaeological method makes it more consistent with the orientation of poetic humanism than science. The ideas of these contemporary European philosophers can provide a theoretical foundation for a rhetoric of poetic humanism which can be organized according to the humanistic, poetic, subjective, and pluralistic characteristics of poetic humanism. (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Poetic Humanism; Rhetoric as Epistemic; Scientific Thinking
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Central States Communication Association (Chicago, IL, April 11-14, 1991).