17 Feb 13 “The Cultural Role of Rhetoric”

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Two highlights from a recent discussion of this essay in my Rhetoric class:

  1. The cultural role of rhetoric goes well beyond “giving powerful speeches in order to influence the culture.”  When Weaver says, “Dialectic alone in the social realm is subversive,” that begs the question: “Subversive of what?”  Answer: social cohesion.   As Coach Follette taught me, and so many others, the “enthymematic base,” or “deep rhetoric,” of a society is the taken-for-granted assumptions around which we cohere.  Our surface rhetoric, as Weaver clearly explicates, replenishes the wellsprings of our social bonds by, enthymematically, communicating value presuppostions and so forth, in various and subtle ways.  Much, much more to say on this topic, but I’ll leave it for now (NO TOME ZONE! heh, heh)
  2. Weaver offers an unusually cogent illustration of how the doctor of culture should operate in our day.  Consider, for example, by what method he develops his cultural critique.  He uses the trial of Socrates to illustrate his point, then turns his critique to the General Semanticists, whom, he argues, have a position that “eats away at the fibre of our society.”  Question #1: Why is this especially important in our day?  (Hint: postmoderns don’t much value logic.)  Question #2: Who are these persons and/or groups whose positions “eat away at the fibre of our society” TODAY?

Weaver’s cultural critique is based, at bottom, on the imago dei.  In other words, when a position advances an image of man that tends toward the denigration of man, it must be diagnosed and defeated, for the preservation of civil society.  Question #3: By what methods should we conservatives engage those whose positions “eat away at the fibre of our society” TODAY?  (Hint: vocation)

There are many, many implications regarding the nature of culture that would make for interesting points of inquiry, but this post is already too lengthy.  Thoughts?

February 17th 2013 |

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