September 29, 2012

Words are Power

It's always strange and comical once you realize how often you do or use something once someone has pointed it out to you. With the metaphors in everyday life, I don't think anyone really realizes that they're using them constantly intentionally or unintentionally unless you really point it out to them. For example, when these metaphors were mentioned, "Your claims are indefensible. He attacked every weak point in my argument. His criticisms were right on target. demolished his argument. I've never won an argument with him." You wouldn't normally think of these as metaphors, but they are. These were really eye opening for me, and the first thing I thought of was Locke's essay when he referred to words being abused not only in oration but in every day discourse. I think this further explains why Locke was so irritated and determined to find the "truth" in words.

Metaphors We Live By

Lackoff and Johnson’s, “Metaphors We Live By” made me realize a lot more about metaphors that I would never pay attention to. Knowing what metaphor meant, I never really bothered to actually break down its concept. Do we really use metaphors to make life more understanding and descriptive or do we actually live through life metaphorically? Yes metaphors have a way of making life more charismatic but they also structure our perceptions and understandings. A metaphor isn’t merely a thought or action but the structure and arrangement of words. Life most people, I myself too thought, that metaphors were just chosen whenever an individual cared to use metaphors. However, that is not the case- in fact we use metaphors in everyday life through our thoughts and our actions. The concepts that go through our thought are not just matters of intellect, they are also what helps us function through our daily lives. As human beings our minds work by how we perceive things, how we think and what we do. Which is exactly what a metaphor does to make us think act this way.

Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics

Aristotle opens up his essay with, “…Good is that at which all things aim.” He explains that, every part and every investigation aims at some good and the man of good moral training knows first principles already, or can easily acquire them. However, when beginning to acquire Good there are three prominent Lives one must pursue: Life of Enjoyment, Life of Politics, and Life of Contemplation. Life of Enjoyment gives you the opportunity to have more or less reasoned conceptions of the Good or Happiness not only in your life but to have you prevails as well. Mentioning, “prevail” made me, think of the second Lives, Politics. Some men think that Good is honorable. But honor is considered to be superficial since it depends on those granted honor rather than those who were being, for example, hurt during the honorable notion. “We instinctively feel that the Good must be something proper to its possessor and not easy to be taken away from him.”

September 27, 2012

The idea, or the word?

 In class we discussed the question of whether the thought, or the idea came first. This is obviously very similar to the chicken and the egg debate, but I would argue that the idea came first. From a young age our thoughts categorize objects, and identify concepts that we are taught to associate words with at a later age. Simple ideas, as we defined in class, are those ideas that need no interpretation for us because we have experience with it in the natural world. Locke said that "Any words will serve for the recurring of our own thoughts to serve our memories, a man may use whatever words he pleases to signify his own ideas to himself and there will be no imperfection to them, if he constantly uses the same sign for the same idea he cannot fail to have his meaning understood"(817). Assuming that words are a constituent of language, and language is a means of communicating and understanding, I believe that ideas were communicated and understood without words in primitive societies, as well as in our infancy.

September 24, 2012

The complex idea of Substances having complex ideas as modes.

I have always enjoyed Locke's philosophy and I find it very fitting that the prologue stated that he had a distaste with the curriculum in school, and began searching for something deeper in philosophy. Locke's treatment of the epistemic is unique, and he dives about as deep into each and every thought as humanly possible. Many times I found myself wondering if he was trying to convince the reader, or himself. The fact that he italicized a brief synopsis of his argument above each proposition was certainly helpful, and necessary to following his ideas.

In class we discussed the definition of a substance, and concluded that understanding substances requires an understanding of several other terms in which we also sought to define (Modes, simple ideas, complex ideas, relations, powers, and abstracts).

It seems to me that a substance is a constituent of a complex idea. A complex idea would be a collaboration of simple ideas which carries many different significations. Locke doesn't ever come out and provide a single definition of a substance, perhaps because a substance is a complex idea in itself and cannot be named or generalized.


Since we were all really on top of the cat idea in our class this morning I thought I would let it continue... 
We discussed how we all have our own interpretations of cat but we can all agree that we know what a cat looks like when we see it and it doesnt change that it is still a cat. We somehow got off the topic explaining how a cat may look in real life or on a computer screen and how different conotations were involved

Locke-luster Words

This week we read an excerpt from John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding. This essay "searches for the truth in the physical world and attempts to understand knowledge as a psychological phenomenon" (814).  Unlike other rhetorical thinkers of the time, Locke understood direct knowledge only as our own ideas. By reflection, we create mental associations of simple ideas, constituting the source of all our knowledge. The main question Locke strives to answer is, is there a way to find the true essence of things, more specifically words. I think that in Locke's essay he is suggesting there isn't a way to find the true essence of things because each person perceives words and ideas in a different way. Words have universal meaning, but it is only arbitrary. There are two types of speech, words we create for ourself, and words we use to communicate ideas to another person. In creating words for our own understanding, language is perfect because the ideas represented in the words are always true and stand for the same thing. In communicating words to another person, either civically or philosophically, language is imperfect because its meaning may not have the same meaning as the mind of the speaker. (817)


I found Lockes essay very interesting concerning complex rhetoric. As an EWM major, I have rarely pondered how complex, well written and persuasive speeches are a bad thing. But as Locke points out, wit and fancy find more entertainment in our world than dry truth and knowledge (826). He believes that persuasive, complex speeches are deceiving and manipulative, rather than ingenious and powerful, as I have always thought. It is interesting that he campaigns a universal, simple language. While I can see his angle I can't agree with it. I think so much of what makes communication such a powerful form of expression is that we can try to relay our own complex thoughts to our peers.

I agree with Locke's explanation on how we learn from experience. I don't believe we are born with any knowledge and I agree that we are all products of our environment. I think him and Barthes would agree that this is why authorship is dangerous-- our previous learned experiences and knowledge are always present, including previous notions and ideas about the author behind the rhetoric. Our experience shapes how we interpret, especially how we interpret less straight forward and more complex knowledge.

Locke - To Speak, and to Know

I think a majority of our theorists have touched on this point: it is difficult for us to understand each other.

Barthes wrote about the difficulties of understanding a text when its author is not there to explain. Focault wrote about the perceptions of an author which cloud our judgment of a text. Ong wrote about a fictionalized relationship where understanding is a constructed hope. Campbell, Heilbrun, Welling, Barton cried out for the voices lost beneath a text.

Together they present an image of a person who desperately seeks to be understood, and who seeks to understand their own nature through personal dialogue. As Locke puts it, "men fill one another's heads with noise and sound, but convey not thereby their thoughts (818)." We can speak, but our intepretations of each other are biased by our experiences. Locke's philosophy of rhetoric attempts to find a solution to this problem, but it may be one that cannot be solved.

The significance of Words

Words do not serve well when trying to be understood. For the listener can find significance in a word differently than the speaker, creating imperfect communication. If you are confused about how this works all you have to do is look back at the first part of Locke’s essay where he is talking about words as recording. Our ability to take a single word and give it significance so that we remember an something else or an entire idea/theory shows how, depending on the way in which one thinks, they may attach a completely different idea to a word than another person would while in discourse. Most of the time we are able to understand one another when we use a certain word, commercials depend on certain phrases or words to communicate for them, and because we see/hear these ideas so much we are able to recognize the significance of that word in a particular context and can even purposefully take it out of that context. Yet at other times this becomes more difficult. Locke calls these more difficult words imperfect for many reasons, one of them being the complexity of the word.

rhetoric is an art...right?

I'll admit: sometimes, for the sake of increasing word count or making myself seem like I know what I'm actually talking about, I've use a painstaking amount of words to convey one particular idea. I've even confused myself before because of how many times I try to go around a subject matter before I actually try and attack it and even then, it's a thinly veiled attempt to just make myself seem smarter. So, while I'd hate to agree with Locke on this one, I have to - in some respects.

Using ornate language can be a good thing - if I'm reading a story that has kind of a dull or ridiculously common plot, I tend to enjoy it more when it has beautiful language and paints pictures for me because it's their command of language that sets them apart from other people's works. I'd much rather read a story that can capture me through their figurative language than one that captures me solely because I can predict the ending because I've read it a million times.

Locke's Language Stance

I will admit, I had to read through Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding a few times before I could fully grasp what he was saying about the function of language and thought, and how they work with each other to form abstract ideas. He is almost self-fulfilling with his definition of language being imperfect, where words can mean different things and it is up to the understanding of the person on the other side of communication to fully grasp what is being communicated by what words are available. I have often wondered about the formulation of words, and how "tree" can mean one thing to us, but nothing to someone else who has another word for it-- that language is developed to attach an idea to things that exist. However, I never really thought about the complexity of words that are not attached to material things, like in his example, glory and gratitude (819). It is a collective idea that is expressed in our language one way, but different in another way. As people start learning these "moral words," their meanings assessed to them are what they experience the word to be, rather than what it is materially (like a tree). It stood out to me that he addresses language as imperfect and changing; a rather new standpoint in 17th century rhetoric, as pointed out in Bizzell/Herzberg's piece on the Enlightenment. Overall, the reformation of language to simplicity and analytical stance on the core meaning of words proved to be a pivotal point in the development of modern language, which can clearly be attributed to Locke and other notable rhetoricians.

The "Truth" of Language

The main point that I took away from Locke's essay was this: We are all different, and we use language in different ways than others around us. Language has specific roles that it plays, and the more complex the role, the more likely we are to encounter a misunderstanding in meaning. Locke says of language, "It is easy to perceive what imperfection there is in language, and how the very nature of words makes it almost unavoidable for many of them to be doubtful and uncertain in their significations" (817).

Mr. John Locke

Like many of the rhetoricians we've covered in this course already, Locke looked at a specific subject (his subject being words) and tried to explain its importance in the world of rhetoric. In my opinion, I find Locke's views of words to be almost too simple because he tries to break down the usage of them into two categories, when using words is often times much more complex than that. The two categories that he explains for using words are to record our own thoughts and to communicate our thoughts to others. When you take a look at history, when different presidents have given speeches, the words they choose to influence people and to motivate them are very powerful, and Locke seems to think that words don't have much meaning.

Agent for Ambiguity

In many of my EWM classes, we have started the semester’s discussion debating the definition of a certain word; whether it be rhetoric, classical, agent/cy, or meaning. Throughout these classroom debates many valid and conflicting ideas get thrown around, leaving the class flustered and reaching the conclusions that a word can “mean” anything because we are the ones that give it meaning. As insightful to meaning as that is, it frustrates me that this is always the conclusion the class comes to. As humans we have been proven wrong so many times, the earth being flat, Pluto existing…. Yet we still take every discovery we make as truth and are uncomfortable with ambiguity.

Locke's Word Ambiguity

What I found interesting about Locke's discussion has been a common theme in this class: Interpretation of something that we are used to in every day life that can often be overlooked. With Foucault, it was the analysis of the author and what defines them-- something that we may not think about day to day. In the instance of Locke, it was the discussion of words and what exactly they can do: the foundation of discourse. Locke insists that there are exactly two ways that words can be used: to record your own thoughts, and to communicate your thoughts to other people. He also says, however, that words are only arbitrary ideas, which seems contradicting to me. If words are subjective, then how are we supposed to covey our ideas or thoughts to other people? Bizzell/Herzberg's background on Locke even says that he thinks words are ambiguous and that they only refer to ideas. Locke also insists that words are the source of our ideas, which also confused me because I thought he said that words can only communicate or record ideas. I may be reading into this a little too literally, but I find much of Locke's discussion to be contradicting.

What's the Big Idea, Locke?

Locke's view on language and how it needs to be purified is one thing. But wanting a plain style of text, who would ever want that? As writers we create works that would appeal to an audiance. Plain text is so boring, in my opinion. But I get what he is saying in  a way, to make text a universal symbol, something that everyone can understand. He says that words represent ideas, not things. I agree with this, but sometimes in areas such as poetry and other descriptive senses words can represent things symbolically. I agree with everyone when they sy Locke's style of writing is contradicting to his message. However, his message gives us a different view point on what text can be. Also, if it was as plain as he proposes it should be, I would have a lot more difficulty reading through it.

If words weren't misinterpreted, why would we communicate?

After a few pages on Locke I couldn’t help but ask myself what he means by complex ideas not being universal?

Locke clearly stated the line before that complex ideas were in fact formed by “connections among simple ideas.” If that is in fact true why aren’t complex ideas universal?

Anyone in fact could create a complex idea, but what Locke misses is the context he places his belief of a complex idea. There must something that signifies an idea is complex, when in reality joining simple ideas is rather (simple) and could be everything that occurs naturally. To Locke’s definition, in reality the connections of simple activities could be considered complex.

Rhetoric: Choosing Words to Represent Ideas

John Locke separates words into two distinct groups: "First, One for the recording of our own thoughts. Secondly, The other for the communicating of our thoughts to others" (Locke, Pg 817). The power of word choice instantly shows the separation between the core message of any rhetorical speech and the words chosen to represent this meaning. The ambiguity and meaninglessness of the words we use to shape these ideas is emphasized by Locke, "For since sounds are voluntary and indifferent signs of any ideas, a man may use what words he pleases to signify his own ideas to himself" (Pg 817). Locke shows how unimportant words are in the shaping of our theories, as he literally strips all words of all meaning. At the same time, this shows how important words are in the actual act of getting out our ideas and representing them. In making this distinction, I think he properly defends rhetoric by showing how utterly dependent it is on the user. For if words are simply chosen to represent the ideas that are formulated, how can the words be blamed? At the same time, it shows how easily rhetoric can be distorted often purposefully by the user and other times a result of their lack of understanding of those words.

The fallacy of wordplay

It has long been recognized that words retain an influence which prevades their actual meaning and outlast their usage, but there is very little regard to the reasons for which words are endowed with such value, or from where this value is derived. John Locke seeks to tackle this discrepancy head on in his philosophically framed empirical observations on the influence and effectiveness of words, and largely language in general, in providing the medium of communication between different people. Lock proposes that words in themselves are an imperfect means for communication between people, particularly those of whom have established drastically different or opposing structures through which reality is perceived, due to the uncertain and often subjective nature of the value of the words themselves.

Agency in Ecoporn and United Way

In both the Ecoporn and United Way articles, there was a idea that the mentioned ads/practices lead to the loss of agency for the represented group. Even though most of the examples were ads, there were still writers behind them, so I wondered how author function could fit into this idea of agency in the articles. In the United Way ads, the tone of the text encourages pity and guilt towards the disabled, but strives to make the reader feel good about them self. When the article mentioned how the tone of the ads differed throughout the years, i think that was also a good example of author function. Depending on the values of the decade, the ads othered the disabled base on different criteria. So, the authors of those had to be aware of what the common values were. They knew what was currently viewed as the "normal America." This shows that the ads existed alongside the common culture. In fact, since advertising has always tried to stay current with what the majority of people like and want, looking at older ads can give a lot of information about how writers attempted to appeal to their readers. I think a part of author function is being aware of your audience. In both Ecoporn and United Way, we see authors/text that are very aware of their audience, and so they were effective.


Bizzell and Herzberg said, the scientific and philosophical revolutions of the seventeenth century affected rhetoric in a number of ways. First starting off with the effect of ‘indirect.’ Which resulted in a change with the conception of logic, which is known to be a branch of knowledge dealing with rhetoric. However, as experimental science and inductive reasoning replaced deductive logic as “the standard of inquiry…” Critics of this century believed that literature was purposeful and intended to please and instruct the reader, which I believe to its entirety to this day. When I think of how literature is purposeful, the art of persuasion easily comes to mind. The art of persuasion ran straight along with the art of poetry. How the art of persuasion deals with the new theories of psychology where rhetoricians confirmed the idea that reasoning and imagination were the key mental faculties, especially in persuasion.

A Method to a Madness

Our blogspot is a clear demostration of Locke's ideas about words and the use of language. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding sounds like a title for a large philosophical journal; almost parallel to the question, "what is the meaning of life?" However, by the first page I noticed this essay connects directly to our lives in class. This blog is a prime example of the double use of words the Locke describes in the beginning of the chapter. 

John Locke: A Way With Words

 In Book III of From An Essay of Human Understanding John Locke goes into the signification of words and their subjective meanings. As a writer, words tend to become ambiguous in meaning, and in use. The exact purpose of words is just as vague as the meaning itself. I agree with Locke's definition on the function of words. They are meant to transcript thoughts and also to communicate those thoughts. Of course this will vary by culture and region on exactly which words are used to record what, in a general sense this may be the most commonly accepted function of words. Words are the symbols of yesteryear and probably the extinct version of recordings in the distant future. Once Locke goes into the communication of words thats when things start to complicate. The same words we used to write our ideas are the same ones we used to relay and communicate these ideas. Communicating ordinary day to day things and expressions is more of the "civil" function Locke mentions. The problem is the philosophical function. This one is a puppet of opinion and opinion is married to interpretation. Interpretation goes back to the primary functions of rhetoric as the interoperation is manipulated by the means of persuasion. So the more a word is used to persuade the more into the question its true meaning becomes.

Get These Words on a Locke Down

John Locke had ideas that bordered Plato’s ideas of the nominal world and that most people were indeed blind to this “real” world. There were some minute differences in the ideas, such as believing in scientific experimentation to come to the truths of the world where as Plato believed a person could get there by simply talking to somebody who knew the truths. In this way I think that Locke was able to surpass the Sophists, Plato, and Aristotle’s thought processes by including the practices of actual sciences, which makes a lot of sense when a person is trying to find and teach facts to people. The three philosophical realms of thought mentioned in the prior sentenced were all focused on coming to truth and understanding and helping people understand the world around them. They came to these truths, however, by simply speaking about the subjects using their oratory skills. Locke believed that method of teaching was basically garbage and by using Bacon’s scientific method, he learned things from experimentation and helped others learn said things by showing them his methods.

Understanding Locke: is it possible?

 As a warning I should probably tell you that this journal is slightly all over the place. We had talked about Locke in my Rhetoric class over the summer but it was only for a day, a couple hours really, and he was mixed in with Bacon and Hume. So, when I began reading his text "Essay of Human Understanding" I was a little confused. The wording was harder for me to decipher than some of the other works we have read so I'm sort of drawing on the knowledge I learned over the summer to try to fill in the gaps.

Further expanding Locke

Ambiguity is not something to be feared. Albeit a challenge to the symbol making animals we, as humans, are and our constant need to determine what something is, or isn't, it is by far our most difficult challenge (Burke, Definition of Man). This is no major issue to me, the ambiguity of words as possibly inaccurate signs of even more ambiguous ideas that are signs of world phenomena. I personally take this, and I believe Locke did as well, as a great challenge that we as humans should take on together. It is by our debate, discourse, agreement, dispute, and refutation that our words have meaning at all. Perhaps they are at times ambiguous, and at other times inaccurate, but they are most vital asset in making sense of our world and all its common, or not so common, occurrences.

What John Locke Learned on the Island

John Locke can talk for a long, long time and use many words to discuss how words inherently have no meaning, and they are extremely unreliable. You now, he has a point. I feel like I must not be alone in saying that I’ve wondered how certain words get associated with certain things so definitively throughout the entire geography of a language. It really is an amazing thing, but I had never quite realized what a fickle thing it is at the same time.

The word “hatch,” for example. What does that word mean? In my own life and experience, I would describe a hatch as a large door with an air lock. John Locke might say it is a bunker buried in the ground. The word to him becomes associated with much more than what my understanding of it is.

Using rhetoric everyday

Bizzell & Herzberg’s background on the enlightenment of rhetoric is an interesting overview and history of the term and how the term itself has evolved throughout the centuries.  Whether the term is being associated with poetry, scientific discussion, history or even literary criticism, rhetoric has evolved and progressed the way speech and thought is delivered. Historically speaking, rhetoric is linked with the use of language when someone is trying to hide the truth from you. It’s associated with shady car salesmen and corrupt politicians. This kind of speaking could be associated with the Greek philosopher Plato who believed rhetoric to obscure the truth. Plato understood Rhetoric to be nothing but mere “flattery”, repeating only what the audience desires to hear. Great philosophers and thinkers such as Francis Bacon and Thomas Sprat have had diverse definitions for the word over the years. 


Let me preface this by saying, I completely understand and mostly agree with Locke's explanation of language, words, sensations and all of it. But I think an interesting thought in regards to it is how language and sensations are so immensely personal to us and yet they are also the thing that connects us the most to one another.

Everyone has the same identified emotions and words that correlate, i.e., happy, sad, scared, angry. But those words and feelings all come with a different mental image, or instance or feeling depending on the person. For example, there are people who identify themselves sexually as liking physical pain whereas that's taboo in our society and we think of it as unconventional, weird or perhaps a little scary. And coming from someone who doesn't identify themselves as such, I get the mental picture of blood, bruises, people screaming. But to those that do, that idea would bring about feelings of sensualness, excitement, enticement. And the mental picture might come across as something of people making love, or smiling faces. It's the same act but because of the words we use to arbitrarily use to define those varying emotions they come across societally very different. 

Call a Locke-smith..

Although somewhat longwinded, I love the root of Locke's argument in this reading: Language is ambiguous. We should language with the knowledge that it is a system based on empty connections. Locke argues that through societal consensus, words gain and retain meaning, that everything we can name is a product of human decision. If "complex ideas are formed by the connections among simple ideas," and simple ideas are only the products of overlapping consensus, what then is our system on communication based upon? (Locke, 815). 

Locke and Sound

While the majority of Locke's essay deals with the problem of actually defining what constitutes words and language, I really would like to focus on something Locke mentions only briefly, sound. Sound is crucial to creating words, language, and ultimately communication. Although, it would be interesting to see what Locke would have to say about how sign language and body language permit communication. However, Locke says that "sounds have no natural connection with our ideas" (Locke 817). Yet, he also contradicts this when he says that sounds are usually learned first when learning to speak as a child. (Locke 819) Only when you first learn the pronunciation of words can you then begin to understand the complex ideas words stand for. So, are words just simply meanings of different sounds? How about adjusting sound or volume to create different tones and pitches. Would things like sarcasm even exist without tone? Or what about emotions? The volume and sound of one's voice and words certainly dictate someone's emotion and how they communicate with others.

Just another Rhetoric device


What a graphic name for a concept that isn't as graphic as we would like to think it is. Or is it?
This past week, I keep coming back to thinking about Ecoporn and what Welling was trying to get at. He mentions that Mander states, "Ecopornography is like 'real' pornography, because it masks sordid agendas with illusions of beauty and perfection." (pg.54) Wellings believed that it was an "unfruitful metaphor" for the term Ecoporn.

So what is Ecoporn? Is it the degradation of nature in our society, just like human pornography is? Or is it something completely different? The academic definition of pornography is this: the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction. (Merriam Webster)

Not truth and knowledge

I think it is interesting that Locke pints out the complexity of our language and the words we use more in a moral sense up into 34 sections. Maybe this is me trying to connect my other rhetoric class and the background "enlightenment" piece, but isn't that the whole point of rhetoric. That although words have a definitional meaning but when we really think about a tree me might not all see the same tree. I might see a black and white tree, you might see a cartoon tree and your friend might see a oil paint version of the tree. Maybe I am not understanding why he is trying to isolate rhetoric and the definitions we use as a society down into a perfect line.

September 23, 2012

ecoPorn... is it really that bad??

Ecoporn is a term I had was not familiar with before Bart’s fascinating article on it. Everything he said he made it very easy for us as readers to connect with. The examples of how Ecoporn is used to alter our perception of things and exploit females and sexuality really raised some concerns for people in the class. Oddly enough I think I may have a different take on this Ecoprn than the class. Of course I do not like the manipulation and basically scheming Ecoporn is affiliated with, but if you think about it what actual harm is it causing? We act as if we are not hit over the head with misleading; devious, and sometimes flat out lies every single day probably every hour. That is all we see in promotions, campaigns, and commercials. This is why I do not understand why people are so offened by Ecoporn. The fact is the "porn" aspect of ecoporn is what grabs our attention. It is what may save you from eating that little piggy or saving a turtle just by disposing of your trash correctly.

Civil Miscommunication v. Philosophical Miscommunication

I understand and appreciate the claims Locke makes about signification, but I think he doesn't completely portray the issue -- he confines the imperfection of words almost entirely to the philosophical use of words.
"It is true, as to civil and common conversation, the general names of substances, regulated in their ordinary signification by some obvious qualities... do well enough to design the things men would be understood to speak of... But in philosophical inquiries and debates, where general truths are to be established, and consequences drawn from positions laid down, there the precise signification of the names of substances will be found not only not to be well established, but also very hard to be so." (821-822)

Locke's Contradiction: His Writing Style vs His Message

What I found ironic about Locke's philosophy on words and meanings was the contradiction between his writing style and the message he conveyed. He calls for a "plain" style without excessive ornamentation or complexity. However, I would not consider the writing style of this work "plain". He says the end of language is to be understood, yet I had a difficult time understanding the complex ways he elaborates on his ideas about language. I would not say that I did not grasp the main concepts Locke discusses, but I would say this understanding could have come more quickly and with more ease had he applied the concepts he spoke of to his own writing. I feel like he says the same thing, in more or less words, several times throughout the essay. I also found myself confused with some of his word choice, which seems to vary when standing for the same idea, something I believe Locke himself would consider a poor choice for the sake of others' understanding.

Questioning Meaning

Locke is a true enlightenment thinker because he challenged the signification of words by discussing their imperfections. He “reconsidered the source and status of knowledge" (Bizzell/Herzberg 791) by “paying particular attention to the psychological processes of communication" (Bizzell/Herzberg 791) and that is how he came to the idea that “the imperfection of words is t doubtfulness or ambiguity of their signification, which is caused by the sort of ideas they stand for" (Locke 817). Words that are imperfect, question the knowledge people have of them and if they are true. Words are generated through knowledge because "the idea which each stands for must be learned and retained" (Locke 818) and if knowledge is something learned then this statement is true.

Feeling Enlightened?: Why Emotion is Essential

The reading I chose was this look into the background of rhetoric during the Enlightenment. Many different ideas were forged during the enlightenment, whether they were completely new ways of thinking, or modifications of old ideas. It's no surprise that, when given the change, rhetoric would be looked at and possibly change for the better.

The particular ideas that came to mind were the "plain" styles that people like Bacon and Descartes wanted more emphasized. By the time I had read and understood the ideas behind such a take for progression I thought it to be a good idea that is very unlikely to work.

My prior studies in philosophy have always been helped by the fact that my first professor didn't just have a doctorate in philosophy. He had one in neuroscience as well. He often talked about how the brain developed and how long it takes to get that frontal lobe going with the "reasoning" aspect of ourselves. The problem with this "plain" take on everything is the fact that our brains developed in a way that the flat-out facts won't cut it for a motivation. As humans, it seems the best we can do is set our minds on something, steer in the direction with reason, and use emotion as a driving force. When we employ rhetoric, we harness the emotions of others towards a greater good assuming we use our reasoning. Same goes for them as a rebuttal. They'll assess the situation using reasoning and push forward with emotion. We do greater things that way. The flat out facts won't always get the job done.

Just sounds or communicated ideas?

Locke's explanation of language is not very clear to me. I feel like he tries to really explain all of the issues with language in very in depth ways, but then talks about how more simple ideas are better for easier communication between humans. This essay to me was not a simple idea at all, and I found it hard to follow. One part that stood out to me was under number 9 when he says that sounds are learned first and then the meanings come later. this interested me because I remember I have many nieces and nephews that I watched learn how to talk and then in turn learn the meaning. At first, they would try and mimic what we were saying and only paying attention to the sounds they were hearing. they were not even yet old enough to hold a conversation. Later, I watched them try and put meanings to all of these sounds that they were learning. this was fascinating to me, but I never looked that closely into it until after reading this essay.

Locke & Understanding

Locke's essay on understanding wasn't very well understood. I feel like Locke analyzed too many parts of language and attempted to run too in depth into language as a tool or part of everyday communication. For example, as he comments on "simple ideas." Locke states that "....simple ideas are, of all others, the least liable to mistakes, and that for these reasons: First, Because the ideas they stand for, being each but one single perception, are much easier got, and more clearly retained, than the more complex ones, and therefore are not liable to the uncertainty which usually attends those compounded ones of substances and mixed modes, in which the precise number of simple ideas that make them up are not easily agreed, so readily kept in mind" (823). I think that it is evident to our community today that simple seems to be the key. Simple ideas allow for communication between all walks of life and educational experience easier.

Where the "agent" can finally appear

In conjunction with the idea of "author death," and the removal of his being from the process of "writing," the idea of Agent also quickly fades away. If the author is no longer thought to bear the unique power of imposing ultimate meaning on the text, or at the very least, thought to be the fountain from which the text springs forth, then his central position as the Agent of text, or language, has disappeared; perhaps even realized as never existing.

So where can Agent appear? For Foucault, it rested in the author's transition to the sociallly based, "Author-function," and Barthes, although not explicit, the Agent seemed to rest in language itself. However, what seems to be problematic in the location of the contemporary Agent, lies not in its new position, but in the failure of its conception as something that could be pluralistic.

The "truth" is in your head

Language as a tool for communication. Locke mentions on page 818, "Without ideas, men fill one another's heads with noise and sounds; but convey not thereby their thoughts..." In relation to the notion of truth and finding it, does this mean that every person must have a relative experience of whatever it is that the speaker is talking about in order to know exactly what it is that they are talking about?

Language as a tool for attaining the truth. If language and rhetoric go hand in hand, how can we get the truth from these techniques? I think first we need to have a clear definition or at least an ideal concept of truth. According to Locke, what is the truth that we are trying to discover through rhetoric and is it really the truth? Can we ever fully attain that truth that we seek through rhetoric or language?

understanding agency

While writing our papers on the agency paradox I have finally come to a better understanding of what agency is now compared to how we first described it in the beginning as one practical definition that agency is the condition or state of being that includes power.  Thanks to both of Campbell’s essays and Barton’s essay I finally understand that agency cannot be just one thing because it changes every time do to what situation arises sometimes changing in one situation to fit the needs of everything.  Like how Campbell describes agency as “1) communal and participatory, hence, both constituted and constrained by externals that are material and symbolic; 2) is ‘invented’ by authors who are points of articulation; 3) emerges in artistry or craft; 4) is effected through form; and 5) is perverse, that is, inherently, protean, ambiguous, open to reversal.” (Campbell, 2) Recognizing now that agency can be all of these different things I can better understand what the agency is in Barton’s essay, the ads themselves, and Campbell’s feminist essay the agency for those women that wanted equality is perhaps their feminist style, a craft learning skill.