November 19, 2012

Burke Terministic Screens

“Not only does the nature of our terms affect the nature of our observations, in the sense that the terms direct the attention to one field rather than to another.” –Burke 46

                This was a powerful statement made my Burke in his essay on terministic screens. This concise statement shows how infinite this idea of terministic screens is. When he says the nature of our terms he is speaking about the way society has universally given a term meaning. These meanings form attractions and retractions to other words. An example of this would be when a person thinks about a football it brings other ideas related or opposite to the idea of the football. These terms affect the nature of our observations; every single word that is used has its own implicit meaning to the speaker because of their experience with the word. This is the idea that people absorb meaning of the word through repetition and experience.

An example of this would be when a child hears the word car for the first time; the child will instantly start saying everything that moves on large wheels is a car. As the child grows and is exposed to more examples of the use of the word car they realize that trucks don’t qualify for the word car, nor do jeeps, minivans, etc. Terms direct the attention to one field rather than another; Burke believed that terms also had relative power to relative fields of interest. If a mycological major is speaking academically to an English major, they are going to have a hard time using their academic terms with each other; each student might know the terms, but the actual scope of the knowledge of these terms limits the field of attention they can show. 

1 comment:

MeganW said...

It almost seems like you are saying that terminsitic screens are similar to the idea of priming. And how, throughout society, we learn our definition of a word through our experiences and actions and that when a word is said the first few things that people think of this word are all different depending on which terministic screen we first learned the definition of the word in.

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