November 18, 2012

What do we really know?

In George's piece I found the idea of cultural piety and blindness really interesting. Burke argues that we have become so well-trained "in established cultural values that we are incapable of recognizing these pieties as either a cause of our problems or something that might be changed to solve them" (George 341). Keller also thinks that many of us act in blind conformity to cultural pieties. This reminded of the term cultural hegemony, which basically describes how society is dominated by the ruling class who manipulates society with their beliefs and values so well that those terms or screens become accepted and unquestioned. I think this is where the study of rhetorical theory comes in as it easier allows us to see the "screens" Burke spoke of that are different from ours. Rhetoric allows us to question why it is what we think we know and question the motives of ideas and theories that supposedly influence our language, which in turn affects how our cultures are formed. Theory allows to approach the world with what Helen Keller would call "fresh eyes."

3 comments:

A Cycene said...

You bring up some interesting points, especially with the recap of cultural hegemony. When I was reading George's article, I sometimes got the sense that Burke was contradicting himself. In the previous article we read from Burke, he was saying how each person has their own filter on how they view things and that there is no possible way for every person to know exactly down to the last detail the same experience since we're all different individuals. Then in this article, he was being quoted that in order to harmoniously associate with someone, you need to in essence become them, learn their culture and language and the meanings behind the symbols. This is why in my own post, I made the point that Hellen Keller could only use her imagination to fill in the blank about certain experiences. To a point, like she also said, we all fill in the blank because we weren't there when a hurricane or war struck, so we don't know the exact experience, however in her case, she knows the general descriptions, but I'm not sure she has a full understanding of what the meaning behind the symbols is.

lmariachami said...

I find it really fascinating that George thinks we are a society that does what we are told to do. Do we really heel to society? I think in some sense and form we do. Lets take for instance teen sexuality and drinking. The media tells us that partying and hooking up is the cool/normal thing to do. So we do it. Yet if someone in society doesn't follow what it is being told, they are thought to be strange and not "normal". Take for instance TLC's show, The Virgin Diaries. It mocked virgins and ostracized them. So maybe, we do follow what society tells us to do, just like a trained dog. Helen Keller is correct when saying that we choose to be blind. In the case of homelessness and poverty, when we see them on the streets we will look the other way. When there are problems in society, we look the other way.

Steven Loer said...

In response to the last post by, lmariachami.
I totally agree that as a consumer society we are now more centralized in worrying about everything that directly effects ourselves. I don't necessarily agree with George in the idea that we as a society do what we are told to do. If we did than we would lead a world without crime and possibly advancement. If we adhered to the strict code of society how would anyone go outside the norm and do something that transcended their time period. Why have we advanced more in the past 50 years than any 50 years prior? People have taken chances, risked everything and totally altered the paths taken by their ancestors before them.

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