The Philosophy of Rhetoric (Galaxy Books)
I. A. Richards
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Our communication is limitedby misunderstanding. Rhetoric, as Professor Richards defines it, is the study of misunderstanding and its remedies. The conventional rules of the old rhetoric and the formulations of scientific language have narrow application to conversational speech; Professor Richard's definition of rhetoric is based on a practical question: how do words work in discourse? To answer this question, he examines the interaction of words with each other and with their contexts, showing how a continual synthesis of meaning, or "principle of metaphor", gives life to discussion. It is through comprehension of the way meaning changes in discourse that we can better control and animate our use of words, and so decrease misunderstanding.
come from the skill with which the rival claims of these various language functions are reconciled and combined. And many of the rather mysterious terms that are usually employed in discussing these matters, harmony, rhythm, grace, texture, smoothness, suppleness, impressiveness, and so on are best taken up for analysis from this point of view. O r rather the passages which seem to exemplify these qualities (or fail to) are best examined with the multiplicity of the language functions in mind.
can be interpreted in several ways which make it true and innocuous. It can say and truly, for example, that we learn how to use words from responding to them and noting how other people use them. Just how we do so learn is a deep but explorable question. It can say equally truly, that a general conformity between users is a condition of communication. That no one would dream of disputing. But if we consider conformity we see that there are two kinds of conformity. Conformity in the general
set of ideas), though of course they are connected in obvious ways with it. We follow these shifts without trouble because we are familiar with them. We are not yet so familiar with the shiEts of the more heavily worked abstract words of reflection. It is the hope and the great opportunity for intellectual improvement that we may in time become equally familiar with them. That, I would say, is fundamentally the aim and the justification of advanced verbal education, a thing otherwise often hard
metaphor, the copresence of the vehicle and tenor results in a meaning (to be clearly distinguished from the tenor) which is not attainable without their interaction. That the vehicle is not normally a mere embellishment of a tenor which is otherwise unchanged by it but that vehicle and tenor in co-operation give a meaning of more varied powers than can be ascribed to either. And a modern theory would go on to point out that with different metaphors the relative importance of the contributions of
reaction and sufficiently impede it to make him completely aware, I believe, that he is living something. T h i s same heroism haunts a good deal of current literary theory and practice-not only in the Super-Realists' cult of artificial paranoias. It comes, I think, from a crude conception of the mode of action of metaphors, a conception which is an excessive reaction from the sort of thing we had last week in Lord Kames. Let us consider more closely what happens in the mind when we put together-