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Concealing and Revealing the Art of Rhetoric in Science and Technology Carolyn R. Miller North Carolina State University November 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "Concealing and Revealing the Art of Rhetoric in Science and Technology Carolyn R. Miller North Carolina State University November 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 Concealing and Revealing the Art of Rhetoric in Science and Technology Carolyn R. Miller North Carolina State University November 2007

2 23 November Wherever there is persuasion there is rhetoric. And wherever there is “meaning” there is “persuasion.” Kenneth Burke, Rhetoric of Motives

3 23 November Wherever there is persuasion there is rhetoric. And wherever there is “meaning” there is “persuasion.” Kenneth Burke, Rhetoric of Motives anaphora

4 23 November Wherever there is persuasion there is rhetoric. And wherever there is “meaning” there is “persuasion.” Kenneth Burke, Rhetoric of Motives anaphora epanalepsis

5 23 November Ars est celare artem. The (real) art is to conceal the art.

6 23 November 20076

7 7 Suspicion: Aristotle Authors should compose without being noticed and should seem to speak not artificially but naturally. The latter is persuasive, the former the opposite; for [if artifice is obvious] people become resentful, as at someone plotting against them, just as they are at those adulterating wines.

8 23 November Suspicion: Longinus There is an inevitable suspicion attaching to the unconscionable use of figures. It gives a suggestion of treachery, craft, fallacy, especially when your speech is addressed to a judge with absolute authority.... So we find that a figure is always most effective when it conceals the very fact of its being a figure.

9 23 November Suspicion: ad Herennium The number [of points in the Enumeration] ought not to exceed three; for otherwise... it instils in the hearer the suspicion of premeditation and artifice, and this robs the speech of conviction.

10 23 November Spontaneity: ad Herennium [certain figures involving word-play] are to be used very sparingly when we speak in an actual cause, because their invention seems impossible without labour and pains.

11 23 November Spontaneity: Alcidamas The best evidence for [the undesirability of a poetic style] is that people who write speeches for the lawcourts avoid great precision of expression and imitate instead the style of extemporaneous speakers.

12 23 November Spontaneity: Quintilian Above all it is necessary to conceal the care expended upon it [artistic structure] so that our rhythms may seem to possess a spontaneous flow, not to have been the result of elaborate search or compulsion.

13 23 November Sincerity: Quintilian Who will endure the orator who expresses his anger, his sorrow or his entreaties in neat antitheses, balanced cadences and exact correspondences? Too much care for our words under such circumstances weakens the impression of emotional sincerity, and wherever the orator displays his art unveiled, the hearer says, “The truth is not in him.”

14 23 November Sincerity: ad Herennium We must take care that the Summary should not be carried back to the Introduction or the Statement of Facts. Otherwise the speech will appear to have been fabricated and devised with elaborate pains to as to demonstrate the speaker’s skill, advertise his wit, and display his memory.

15 23 November Mimesis: Cato the Elder Rem tene; verba sequentur. Grasp the subject; the words will follow.

16 23 November Mimesis: Aristotle Something seems true when the speaker does not conceal what he is doing.

17 23 November Mimesis: Longinus Just as people who are really angry or frightened or worried or are carried away from time to time by jealousy or any other feeling... often put forward one point and then spring off to another with various illogical interpolations... so, too, the best prose-writers by the use of inversions imitate nature and achieve the same effect. For art is only perfect when it looks like nature and Nature succeeds only by concealing art about her person.

18 23 November Mimesis: Dionysius The distinctive nature of its melodious composition seems, as it were, not to be contrived or formed by any conscious art …. Yet it is more carefully composed than any work of art. For this artlessness is itself the product of art: the relaxed structure is really under control, and it is in the very illusion of not having been composed with masterly skill that the mastery lies.

19 23 November I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts: I am no orator as Brutus is; But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man. … For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth, Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech To stir men’s blood. I only speak right on. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar Act III, Scene ii

20 23 November I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts: I am no orator as Brutus is; But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man. … For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth, Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech To stir men’s blood. I only speak right on. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar Act III, Scene ii

21 23 November History of the Royal Society “… a constant Resolution, to reject all the amplifications, digressions, and swellings of style: to return back to the primitive purity, and shortness, when men deliver'd so many things, almost in an equal number of words. They have exacted from all their members, a close, naked, natural way of speaking; positive expressions; clear senses; a native easiness: bringing all things as near the Mathematical plainness, as they can …” Thomas Sprat, 1667, § XX

22 23 November History of the Royal Society “… a constant Resolution, to reject all the amplifications, digressions, and swellings of style: to return back to the primitive purity, and shortness, when men deliver'd so many things, almost in an equal number of words. They have exacted from all their members, a close, naked, natural way of speaking; positive expressions; clear senses; a native easiness: bringing all things as near the Mathematical plainness, as they can …” Thomas Sprat, 1667, § XX

23 23 November Example: Risk Analysis

24 23 November Example: Risk Analysis Chauncey Starr, "Social Benefit Versus Technological Risk." Science 165 (1969): 1232–38.

25 23 November Example: Risk Analysis U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Reactor Safety Study: An Assessment of Accident Risks in U.S. Commercial Nuclear Power Plants. Washington, DC: U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 1975.

26 23 November Starr’s goal “If we understood quantitatively the causal relationships between specific technological developments and societal values, both positive and negative, we might deliberately guide and regulate technological developments so as to achieve maximum social benefit at minimum social cost.”

27 23 November Starr’s argument Premise: Nuclear plants should be as safe as coal-burning plants. 1.Coal-burning plants = 4 deaths /year/million-kw power station. 2.One nuclear plant catastrophe would produce 10 lethal cancers/million population. 3.A nuclear plant with a probability of one such accident every 3 years meets the target risk limit. 4.However, power companies expect plants to last about 30 years. 5.Power companies need an accident rate of < 1/100 plant years, or 10 deaths/100 plant years, or 0.1 death/yr/million population. 6.The economic investment criteria of the power company sets a risk level 1/200 of the present socially accepted risk. Conclusion: “The economic requirement for the protection of major capital investments may often be a more demanding safety constraint than social acceptability.”

28 23 November Reactor Safety Study goal “to assess the risks to the public from potential accidents in nuclear power plants of the type being built in the United States today” to “produce a more realistic assessment of those risks than has been provided in earlier work; it may also help to dispel some of the existing confusion”

29 23 November Logos conceals pathos “All enthymemes are enthymemes of pathos” (Walker).

30 23 November Logos conceals pathos “All enthymemes are enthymemes of pathos” (Walker). Logos is itself a pathos-appeal.

31 23 November Logos conceals ethos “Good sense” is reduced to expertise.

32 23 November Logos conceals ethos “Good sense” is reduced to expertise. Opinions masquerade as facts.

33 23 November Logos conceals ethos “Good sense” is reduced to expertise. Opinions masquerade as facts. The favoring of logos is itself an ethos- appeal.

34 23 November Summary 1.The denial of rhetoric in science and technology is part of a venerable strand of thought in the rhetorical tradition.

35 23 November Summary 1.The denial of rhetoric in science and technology is part of a venerable strand of thought in the rhetorical tradition. 2.The denial of rhetoric is the consequence of an enduring and inevitable social condition.


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