November 18, 2012

Mr. Burke and Mrs. Keller: Knowing

Much of Burke's argument is that in order to know something or to successfully express yourself to an audience, you must know their symbols of language, and you must know how to use the language. "If you want to attack the Republican party, become a Republican." (p 342) This method was called "boring within". By 'boring within', you are identifying with them by talking the language, using the gestures, tonalities, orders, images, ideas, and attitudes. In this way, the speaker is sharing the same experiences and is then able to have a full understanding that is synonymous.

In relation to the understanding of language, Hellen Keller claims that she is able to understand the world around her based on the symbols of language. She says on page 345, "The deaf-blind child has inherited the mind of seeing and hearing ancestors-a mind measured to five senses. Therefore, he must be influenced, even if it be unknown to himself, by the light, color, and song which have been transmitted through the language he is taught, for the chambers of the mind are ready to receive that language. The brain of the race is so permeated with color that it dyes even the speech of the blind." If language really allows the blind to have a full sense of 'knowing', do you think she would know the difference between purple and blue? Can you describe the difference between purple and blue to her? Can you feel the difference between purple and blue? What about the different shades of purple?

Do you think Keller and Burke are contradicting each other, or themselves? Wasn't it Burke who said that there are going to be as many interpretations for the same thing as there are people? In other words, didn't he say that each person has their own filter or point of view of looking at things and that there is no way of having a harmonious sense of 'knowing'? How do you relate his past passage to what this new passage is saying?


Jenny said...

To address the questions that you posed regarding "knowing", I think that she would know the difference between purple and blue through what she has constructed in her own reality. We all know the "difference" between purple and blue because it is what is presented in our culture. Technically, who are we to say what is blue and what is purple? We only call them blue and purple because it what we are told. I think the only way we feel differences between colors is from what our own experiences are with the specific colors and how they have been presented to us. "Knowing" shouldn't be based on one or a few person's perspectives. Knowing is subjective and is based on that one person's experiences.

i think the comparison between Burke and Keller is a very interesting one. I think the inharmonious perspective of Burke just justifies the fact that "knowing" isn't a term we can completely define. The pieces of work used in this article, between Keller and Burke, I think are quite similar. They rely on the people and the culture to be able to come up with a solution based on their experience.

Bridgette Balderson said...

I don't necessarily think Burke and Keller are contradicting each other, rather I think their ideas complement each other, but are still unique to each person. Ultimately, we do have to address the fact that Keller is blind, but we also have to think about what she says about "language really allowing a full sense of knowledge." Does it really? Your question about color is something I've always wondered about. Is my shade of purple the same as yours? Maybe I see something completely different, but I have been conditioned to see my purple as the standard that everyone else sees. My roommate's boyfriend is colorblind so she buys many of his clothes for him. So, basically she constructs his reality of certain colors because he can't necessarily do it himself. Whatever shade he recognizes is because he has become familiarized with the clothes he regularly wears. In this case, I don't know if we can really have a full sense of "knowing."

Kate Christine said...

I agree with the above comment that I don't think Burke and Keller are contradicting each other, but rather complementing each other. I don't necessarily think that Burke means that the only way to address an audience is to adopt their gestures and language, I just think it is a way to ensure a better understanding of the subject. Ultimately, every person will have their own interpretation of the same speech whether the speaker utilizes universal gestures, or not. Which brings me to the color question. I think a blind person can distinguish between color based on what they can see in their imagination combined with what they may have learned through the culture we live in. Two people with perfect vision can have differing opinions on the same color, that just goes to show you that knowledge and learning is subjective, and there really isn't one distinct way of explaining or sharing information.

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