Ong’s Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue

Walter Ong
Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
From Robert Clement’s Review

•    Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue is divided into four parts of varying length.
o    The first (“Issues”) presents the essential facts of Ramus’s career and dwells upon the famous M.A. thesis which was to demolish Aristotle-and which legend has him defending valiantly against attacks from all quarters.
o    Part II (“Background”) is a flashback to the scholastic, humanistic, and pedagogical background into which Ramus was born.
o    The third section (“Ramism”) is a detailed explanation of Ramus’s dialectic and method, from its first elaboration in his various works through the attacks launched against it to its final revisions. In this section stylistics and rhetoric assume important roles.
o    Part IV (“Sequel”) concerns itself with the spread and modifications of Ramism. “The internal structure and development of the Ramist outlook advertises particularly the mechanistic, quantitative bent in the scholastic mind, and calls attention to the importance of the scholastic arts course (and, indirectly, of the medical course) as against the scholastic theological course in the development of the sensibility of Western man.” (p. 306)
•    All in all, this careful book succeeds in correcting and expanding our knowledge of the thought and works of Ramus through a patient examination and rigid reconsideration of the source materials, old and new.
From T. K. Scott, JR.’s Review
•    Ramism is shown to have developed a tendency in scholastic logic to identify knowledge with teaching, and teaching with a simplified spatial approach to reality, a tendency which was reinforced by the diagrammatic tidiness made possible by letterpress printing.


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