Perspectives on Human
Communication – 2005
Dr. Willard Uncapher
[email protected]
Mon-Fri 8/29,31 & 9/2/2005 – Rhetoric and Comm. Frameworks
[Please Fill out Attendance Sheet]
Media History Overview
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Historical Periods – a timeline
I.
Oral (3 million - 3500 bce.)
includes dance, etc.- question is how info transmitted
and stored; how is culture transmitted & formed
II.
(Hand) Written
a. glyphic, syllabic, etc (3500 bce. - 750 bce. approx.)
b. alphabetic (750 bce. - 1450 ce.)
III. Typographic (1450 - 1830 ce.)
printing press- mass media, newspapers
IVa. Electronic I (1830s- 1940s approx.)
telegraph, telephone, electric light
info become independent of space; short
IVb. Electronic II (1945- present)
(interactive) computers, multi-media fusions
Oral Era - (3 million - 3500 bce)
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Words Have Power – How do words
come to have meaning?
Bards, [Mobads, Brahmins]- poets
who can remember
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Greek Homeric tales; Sanskrit- Rg
Veda;
Oral ‘Literature’ as performance
 William Parry (Greece) and Alfred
Lord (Yugoslavia)– Bards did
exist!
Mnemonics - How is culture
transmitted & stored between
generations, and between
communities?
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Poetry- has rhyme, rhythm,
repetitions – 'wise nestor' ‘Clever
Odysseus‘
(Hand) Written IIAlphabetic (750 bce- 1450 ce approx.)
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Origins – Used in commerce, then government, &
only later in religion and story. Sumerians and clay.
Letters among Merchants
Scribes – Professionals learn how to write and
read, and so gain a special power.
Glyphs- Writing from symbols, to syllabaries
Books scarce until era of printing - scarce books
& documents designed to be memorized to feed a
vibrant oral culture
Alphabet Revolution? Many writing systems
without vowels- Greeks add vowels to perfect
efficient (‘digital’) system
‘Democratization’? Because easier to learn
system, to learn new words – still, rights for women,
slaves, non-citizens were more limited
Greeks & Rhetoric? – a period of transition from
‘oral’ to ‘limited (hand) written’ culture – with
alphabet, there is enough literacy to impact how
society is organized, teachings its young, relates to
its elders, and values knowledge!
Rhetoric and the Study of Languages
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Study of Languages is ancient – not simply Greek
Formal Grammarians and Rhetoricians – seem to
arise with spread of writing.
Panini – Ancient Indian Grammarian – (300 BCE) –
Studies grammar of Sanskrit as a universal
Language
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comprehensive and scientific theory of phonetics,
phonology, and morphology
“Sanskrit" means "complete" or "perfect" and it was thought
of as the divine language, or language of the gods
Rhetoric in Greece
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Study of Language
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Rhetoric as ‘persuasive discourse’
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According to Aristotle, Corax ‘invented’ rhetoric in Syracuse
(Sicily) around 476 B.C.
Corax’s student, Tisias, is said to have further developed
the skills of rhetoric and then brought them to mainland
Greece
“discipline given to the analysis, design, critique, and
delivery of words intended to influence the attitudes or
behaviors of a specific audience”
Isocrates – sounds like a lawyer, argues about who should
pay debts
Rhetoric as a (formal) study of language
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Study of ‘communication’ / tropes or figures of speech
Why does Rhetoric arise in Greece?
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Athens experiment in democracy provides
new place for public debate to influence
public policy.
Need for persuasive speech in legal cases
(Isocrates)
Oral expression and skilled oratory were
admired and popular for entertainment.
The Sophists
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Teachers emerged in the 5th century (B.C.) to
teach rhetorical skills.
Sophist means “bearer of wisdom.”
Some taught wisdom (Socrates).
Some taught eloquence (Gorgias).
Others taught both wisdom and eloquence
(Isocrates).
Isocrates (436-338 B.C.)
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In his Antidosis, Isocrates defined the field of
rhetoric and its importance in human affairs.
Elevates political and public interest over
more philosophical and private interest
Isocrates believed that oratory was an art.
Importance of practical wisdom
Excellence could be attained only through:
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Talent: development of an existing aptitude,
Education: extensive knowledge of subject matter,
Application: rigorous practice.
Plato (427-347 B.C.)
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Dialogue: “Phaedrus” – discusses rhetoric
Emphasizes reason and ideals
Dialectic vs Rhetoric
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Rhetoric is an art to be learned
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Dialectic [analysis and synthesis of formal reasoning],
Speeches organized like living organisms
psychagogia--which translates into "soul-leading"-describes the nature of rhetoric
Writing is a copy of a copy
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Will it weaken memory?
Aristotle (394-322 B.C.)
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Flourished after Plato, teacher of
Alexander the Great, known for his
walking lectures (The “Peripatetic
Philosopher”).
A scientist and observer of nature
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Provided many explanations about how
nature (physical, biological, psychological,
etc) worked
Provided rules for reason and thought
Contrast with Plato:
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Deductive Thought – reasoning from
accepted basic/first principles (Plato) – look
by to Pythagoras & Mathematics
Inductive Thought – reasoning based on
experience and evidence; from a particular
case (Aristotle)
Aristotle’s Rules of Logic:
For the same of argument… you must accept these!
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The Law of Identity – “A = A” – Things are what
they are, and stay the same.
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The Law of the Excluded Middle – “A or not A” –
Something either is or is not.
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Eg. Men, Women as categories with consistent qualities.
Some argue this ‘law’ is not properly in Aristotle – from
Middle Ages
Eg. Either someone is a Human or they are not.
Some argue [later] for 3 values – yes, no, maybe
The Law of Contradiction – “A and not A can’t both
be true” – contradictory statements can’t both be
true.
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Eg. One can’t be both human and non-human.
Syllogism and Enthymemes
How do you string ideas, assumptions, and connections
together in an ‘argument’? It’s harder than it seems!
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Syllogism – is a three part ‘argument’ with:
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Enthymeme – is a syllogism with an unstated assumption; can usually
be restated as deductive syllogism
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a major premise (“All humans are mortal”);
a minor premise (“Socrates is a human”); and
a conclusion (“Socrates is a mortal”)
“Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy
was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy." —Lloyd Bentsen to
Dan Quayle, 1988. (The hidden premises might be, Jack Kennedy was a
great man, and you are not a great man.)
“The beautiful women, draped across the dashing red sports car... there is
no logical connection between the two, but the advertiser would like to imply
a premise that there is. If the advertiser came out and said "Buy this car and
you will have more sexual satisfaction" it might be easier to reject as a
premise.
Note: If the premises of the syllogism are invalid, the syllogism or
enthymeme (argument) can be refuted.
Aristotle (continued)
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Aristotle produced the first “textbook” on Rhetorical skills.
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Aristotle’s Rhetoric combined the ethical concerns of Isocrates and
Plato with the sophist’s practical ideas about persuasion.
Rhetoric combines dialectic, psychology, and persuasion.
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[Contrast this with later theories of communication of Chapter 2: eg. channel,
noise, feedback, social norms, etc.]
Three Elements to Poetics and Arguments [do memorize]
 Ethos: ethical behavior which establishes the speakers good
character and personal credibility. Speaks to the cultural side
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Pathos: psychological tactics which bring the audience into an
emotional state favorable to the speaker’s position or arguments.
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What makes someone credible? Why might this be ‘cultural’ in
nature?
What gets you excited, worried, impressed by a topic?
Logos: logical arguments which either make a case (or appear
to make
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What good reasons are there for you do accept or do something?
Cicero (106-43 B.C.) – ‘fancy language’
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Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman orator, lawyer, and practicing rhetorician.
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Appears during the decline of the Roman Republic – before rise of the Empire
with its Caesar/monarch.
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Republic – wealthy aristocrats are elected. Mobility in law or military
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A famous orator – would give elaborate, compelling speeches, and write about the
theory of giving such speeches
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Synthesized the Greek and Roman schools of rhetoric, and contributed specifics
to the classical canon.
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Used manuals in Greek; still a more upper class pursuit.
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His works included De Inventione (On Invention) and De Oratore (On Oratory).
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Inventione reads like a manual for lawyers, while Oratore is an extensive work on
the artistry of rhetoric.
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Places Rhetoric above Law and Philosophy
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Wants to balance ‘truth’ and ‘speech’
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A skeptic [we can’t know ‘ultimate truth’] in philosophy, but not in ethics and
politics – we need to act! - Cicero acknowledged the influence of Isocrates on his
work.
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Seneca the Younger – Contrasts with Ciceronian style: favors ‘plain speech’ of the
people!
The Roman school:
Quintilian’s Five Canons
1. Invention (inventio): the devising of matter, true or plausible,
that would make the case convincing.
2. Arrangement (dispositio): the ordering and placing of matter.
3. Style (elocutio): the adaptation of suitable words and
sentences to the matter invented.
4. Memory (memoria): the firm retention in the mind of the matter,
words, and arrangement.
5. Delivery (pronuntiatio): the graceful regulation of voice,
countenance, and gesture.
Quintilian & Beyond (ca. A.D. 30-98)
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Marcus Fabius Quintilianus was born in Spain (Calahorra) but was
taken to Rome around A.D. 50.
His principal work was the Institutio Oratoria, a blend of practical and
theoretical precepts for educating citizen-orators.
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Quintilian argued that the goal of a rhetorical education was “a good
man speaking well.”
For Quintilian, a “good man” possessed a long list of attributes and
behaviors, most of them oriented to civic duty.
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Sets up the first ‘public school’ of rhetoric
Sets up ‘steps’ in learning rhetoric’
Creates ‘textbook’ – hence importance for later generations
“Good speech” is an essential component to being full
human
Pragmatic Approach – judge things by how well they work, and how
well they serve people, arguments, and causes.
Medieval Rhetoric – Are your reasons based on ‘truth’ (received,
transcendental - Plato) or ‘analysis’ (words as conventions, Aristotle)
What is communication?
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Is communication intentional?
 Are we dealing with ‘people’ or senders who want to send
‘something’ via communication?
 Does it require a sender and receiver?
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Is communication symbolic?
 Must it involve signs, symbols, or some abstraction?
 Is communication concerned with meanings?
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Is our study of communication limited to humans?
 Can we include animals… or plants?
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Is communication limited to speech?
 What different ‘channels’ are we going to look at?
 When is ‘not doing something’ also ‘sending a message’?
Models and Definitions
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Models and theories begin with definitions.
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Definitions help establish the structure of the model.
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Show structure and function.
Models and Theories?
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Models are necessarily reductionist
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Models are abstractions (the map is not the territory).
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We have to use ‘concepts’ [remember laws of identity,
excluded middle, contradiction?]
Models are descriptive tools.
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Only some things selected
Illustrate, demonstrate, explain, and/or show relationships
among entities or concepts.
Illustrate dynamics among components of a theory.
Models may lead to predictions
Models and Perspectives
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Psychological [Transmission]: communication as
the transmission of messages
Metaphor: Radios
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Social construction: communication as collective
world-building
Metaphor: Software
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Pragmatic: communication as patterned
interactions
Metaphor: Chess game
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Cultural and Critical Studies: communication as a
revealer of social and cultural forces
Ethnography of Communication: looking at
speech communities as observed
Psychological [Transmission] View
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Perspectives on Human Communication – 2005