ERIC Number: ED341996
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
From Rhetorical Action to Compositionalist Behavior: Reconsidering the Tyranny of Process.
The belief that writing can best be understood by understanding the mental processes that govern the production of discourse is questioned in this paper. Plato and Aristotle can form a theoretical base for rhetoric praxis that is democratic, diverse, and empowering. A reexamination of Plato's language underscores his belief that a person must know various states of mind and plans of action to achieve reason and understanding, but Plato is not describing the manner by which an individual thinks and feels; rather is he examining how humans arrive practically at critical judgments about the world of human affairs. Aristotle too, conceives psychology in clinical terms. The soul is to be led to a place of understanding, where judgement and action are guided by politics and ethics. Hence the rhetorician must consider how emotions affect judgment. Eighteenth-century rhetorician George Campbell's psychology turned inward, leaving the world of human action for the realm of the mind and psychological behavior. Contemporary compositionalist practices, like Campbell's approach, focus upon internal processes. The writing classroom should be reconceived as a scene of cultural engagement. Students can be taught to inquire in the Aristotelean mode about how a world of powerful discourses operates to shape them. Like Plato, students can come to realize that such questions do not come easily in a democracy and they can learn to be critical. Such critical engagement can only make sense if the presumption of psychology and the tyranny of process are abandoned. (Twenty-one references are attached.) (SG)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Aristotle; Campbell (George); Plato Of Athens
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of English (Seattle, WA, November 22-24, 1991).