Gross and Keith’s Rhetorical Hermeneutics

Alan Gross and William Keith, eds.
Rhetorical Hermeneutics: Invention and Interpretation in the Age of Science
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies

•    Can a rhetorical hermeneutic be anchored in a coherent and enabling theory?
•    Productive tradition=critical and theoretical?
•    Interpretative that rhetorical studies be broadened to explore communicative procedures and practices not traditionally covered
•    Gross: reducing science to rhetoric without remainder
•    Rhetoric’s essential character isn’t interpretative
•    Critical evaluation of speech: whether rhetor achieved goal with immediate audience
•    Actually v. Ought to be received
•    Gaonkar: rhetorical tradition is essentially one of practice
1: “In a reversal of the usual topos, Gaonkar does not attempt to question whether the rhetoric of science has understood science properly, but whether it has sufficiently comprehended rhetoric.”
8: “As a consequence of the strategy of globalization, rhetoric, once Cicero’s ‘civil science,’ now appears to be ubiquitous in modern life, as ubiquitous as community, knowledge, or interpretation.”
10-1: “Gaonkar asks whether it is really possible for a theory so firmly grounded in practice for over two millennia to be translated into a theory of interpretation.”
14: “Gaonkar argues that, to the extent that there is theory, it consists not of a systematic array of insights but of a set of rules of thumb which cannot be deepened systematically.  Once you have penetrated the first layer of explanation, you do not find anthoher set of theories to explain the terms, claims, and relationships of that first layer.”
“The Idea of Rhetoric in the Rhetoric of Science”: Gaonkar
•    Achieve a “redescription”
•    Rhetoric as interpretive theory v. cultural practice
•    Rhetoricality is an effect
•    Between the precept and performance there is talent and practice
•    Historical explanation: dialectic between repression and recognition
•    Rhetoric of Science (RS): those who study science from a rhetorical perspective
•    RS: Immediately implicated in the politics of recognition
o    Visibility: under one description, rhetoric is visible, under another it is ‘dimly’ visible
•    “Virtually every statement in this paragraph is socially correct and technically false”
•    Scientific discoveries are difficult to explain
•    If scientific theories are rhetorical inventions, no explaining is necessary
•    Rorty: Modern science is a “discursive community”
•    Coarticulation: one rarely speaks of rhetoric in isolation but always in relation to something
25: “Rhetoric is a way of reading the endless discursive debris that surrounds us.”
27: “The ancients were not entirely unaware of these two aspects of rhetoric.  They distinguished between rhetorica utens and rhetorica docens.  The former refers to rhetoric as practice in a sense not dissimilar from its contemporary usage.  But the latter refers to rhetoric as a pedagogically motivated network of critical terms, practical devices, prudential rules, and semitheoretical formulations regarding a set of interrelated topics: practical reasoning, figurative language, compositional structures and strategies, psychology of audience, and sociology of opinion.”
29: “First, what is rhetorical in any given case in invariably an effect of one’s reading rather than a quality intrinsic to the object being read.  Second, if what is rhetorical is an effect of one’s reading, then a master reader can produce such an effect in relation to virtually any object.  Hence, the range of rhetoric is potentially universal.”
38: “The practice of invoking rhetoric is a culturally significant phenomenon and that practice is symptomatically related to the crisis in the human sciences marked by the demise of ‘foundationalism’ in philosophy and of ‘high modernism’ in art and literature.  Second, the seemingly careless and ubiquitous uses and invocations of rhetoric deflect our attention from its strategic deployment.”
61: “Scientific knowledge consists of the current answers to three questions, answers that re the product of professional conversation: what range of brute facts is worth investigating? How is this range to be investigated? What do the results of these investigations mean?”
“What if We’re Not Producing Knowledge?: Critical Reflections on the Rhetorical Criticisms of Science: Alan Gross
•    Gaonkar thinks Gross is wrong by using rhetorical practices as an adequate epistemic/methodological resource
•    Gaonkar: Classical rhetoric: production ≠ analysis
•    Rhetorical criticism can add little to science (via Gaonkar)
•    Rhetoric of Science is consistently the “borrower”
140: The interpretive turn in contemporary rhetorical studies, even as it seeks to break free from a ‘restrained’ vision of Aristotle remains fatally bound to an Aristotelian vocabulary.”
“Rhetoric of Science”: Double the Trouble?: Fuller
•    Does rhetoric add anything distinctive in science?
•    When science is said to be universally accessible, does that mean the practice or the products?
o    Contributors v. consumers
•    Isocratean = rhetoric as hegemonic
•    Sophistic = rhetoric as dynastic
•    Scientific text serves as a sustained focus of attention
•    Invisible colleges (Bacon): “a network of opinion leaders, typically the dorectors of the major research teams, who collectively determine the place (if any) that a text will occupy in the ongoing disciplinary narrative.”
280: “Where is the rhetoric in a field whose authors think of themselves as primarily contributing to an archive rather than to a conversation?”
285-6: “When do readers engage scientific texts as rhetorical episodes, that is, as if the author were publicly addressing them with the purpose of moving them to act one way or another? By simply taking for granted that readers engage texts rhetorically, the rhetorician of science appears to be naively passing off a normative theory of how scientific texts should be read, as though it were already implicitly applied by some actual readers whose interpretive processes the rhetorician then wants to capture.”
“An Elliptical Postscript”: Farrell
•    Gaonkar: decode counterfactual conventions informing the critical practices of rhetoric and its traditions
•    Rhetoric of science: the way rhetoric operates within the texts and practices of science
•    Rhetorical Tradition: rhetorical not reducible to production/consumption
o    Praxis
322: Double bind: “Either they restrict rhetoric to an indentifiable, productionist ‘place’ in cultural life, where its ‘thin’ vocabulary will be serviceable (thought irrelevant); or they globalize rhetoric, where rhetorical interpretation gains breadth, at the cost of its identity.”
325: “Science ‘persuades’ and instructs, too, but primarily in germs of the principles and propositions of its own subject matter.  Only rhetoric presents us with an art for persuading over what is common to all.”
Close Readings of the Third Kind: Reply to My Critics: Gaonkar
•    Two reading strategies with rhetorical turn:
o    1—make object intelligible in terms of rhetoricity
•    Predictable
o    2—Unpack rhetoricity—more precisely articulated theoretical constructs
•    Let go of rhetoric as explanatory in favor of understanding
•    Context: occasion and society


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