A brief jaunt into some things classical, 3 of 5 (Halloran & Bradford)

Un-prose-atized notes as I continue my jaunt through Essays on Classical Rhetoric and Modern Discourse (1984):

Halloran, S. Michael and Annete Norris Bradford. “Figures of Speech in the Rhetoric of Science and Technology” (179-192).

(written in conversation with clarity/absolute-symbol critiques of the use of metaphor and other sorts of figurative language in technical and scientific writing)

“The central point to be made in answering the objection is this: a metaphor is not necessarily a mere metaphor. Lakoff and Johnson have pointed up the existence of metaphors that serve to organize fundamentally our everyday experience of the world; for example, much of what we say and think about the experience of arguing is grounded in the metaphor argument is warfare. These “metaphors we live by” are so integral to our experience that we recognize them as metaphors only through a conscious effort. Most of the time we use them as literal truths; in an argument, for example, we devise a strategy to attack an opponent’s position and thus defeat him. While we don’t think consciously about an argument-warfare analogy, our experience of warfare serves to organize our experience of arguing. (Note that it is not necessarily the more familiar experience that serves to organize the less familiar; for most people, warfare is a purely vicarious or imaginary experience.” (187)

heuristic tropes: “a heuristic for research in the field” (188) (i.e. brain as computer; particles as waves, genetic process as communication)

argument for rhetorical instruction in technical communication: “At the very least, then, (because a student indoctrinated into a single set of rhetorical norms may change jobs someday, because a teacher can’t know which norms will be appropriate for which students) technical and scientific writing students should be taught to understand the rhetorical principles upon which the writing norms of a field rest. We believe that it is also possible to teach them to take a critical view of the particular norms of this or that field, without thereby disabling them for work in that field. Indeed, if a student really understands rhetorical principles, he or she will inevitably question (but not necessarily disregard) some of the more mindless conventions that are enforced in certain fields” (192).

(part of argument and conclusions based on the mere craft vs rhetorical art distinction. gah)


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