September 6, 2012

Herrick: Rhetoric as Equipment for Living

In Herrick’s essay, Contemporary Rhetoric II: Rhetoric as Equipment for Living, a stance is taken that is portrayed by Burke early in the essay that alludes to rhetoric as a social context. He states that it is situational, which correlates with Burke’s essay, Literature as Equipment for Living. He agrees that rhetoric is symbolic as a way of inducing agents of change in a community to communicate and to “eliminate war” or communicative conflict in society. The essay goes on to address the human aspect of rhetoric, where humans use language to address subjects and indicate the best and worst qualities of humanity. For example, he states that people are “rotten with perfection,” meaning that the desire to use language to impose perfection on surroundings to make a proper name, which is what makes us “perfectionists.”

However, Burke isn't the only ispiration for his stance where social constructs are at the core of language and communication. As I read on, I saw that Herrick then branches off to talk about other rhetoricians' ideas and philosophies as well. This essay goes over the ways rhetoric interacts with a culture as a way of labeling and addressing complications in the world we live in, by using Burke as a springboard for thought. With the pentad, (act, scene, agent, agency, and purpose), rhetoric can be applied to society. He also addresses Lloyd Bitzer, and the rhetorical situation to define rhetorical discourse in practice through audience, egixence, and constraints. He also addresses Bakhtin with ideological and social aspects of rhetoric that involve the listener and multiple voices/dialogue and the outside influences on rhetoric as well. In all, rhetoric is situational and involves many factors of human interaction and how we communicate to “eliminate warfare” today.

I thought it was interesting to see how he constructed his thoughts based on different people for inspiration, and that rhetoric really doesn't have one side-- however, Herrick does show that he has an idea of what the core of rhetoric should be, and it is clear that he takes the side of Burke and builds on with the other theorists.

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