Unit exam 1 resubmission

Prashant unit exam 1 revisions June 23, 2018

(one): how does Gorgias' work in the sophistic movement, in general, apply to professional and technical writing?

Gorgias was a Greek rhetorical speaker and philosopher of rhetoric who was a member of the sophistic movement. Gorgias believed that provisional knowledge was the only knowledge of human beings were capable of attaining (Bizzell and Herzberg 42.) Provisional knowledge ignores the existence or presence of transcendent factors that guide the progression of society such as justice or religion (Bizzell and Herzberg 42). Gorgias stated that provisional knowledge must be presented to humans with the assistance “of rhetoric that appeals ethically and pathetically as well as logically it must appeal to our whole person” (Bizzell and Herzberg 42, 43). The significance of this approach is that Gorgias believed that all human knowledge comes from an individual’s encounters with the world and the exchange of an individual’s knowledge is limited to the provisional or shared experiences that individual has with their community (Bizzell and Herzberg 43).
Gorgias argues that this perspective allows a speaker to deceive a listener in understanding the true meaning of the words because of their mutually shared experiences. This can be seen in Gorgias writings one of which is titled The Encomium of Helen. In this work, Gorgias explains how Helen gets deceived by a suitor into marriage due to the words that he uses (Bizzell and Herzberg 45).Gorgias argues strongly that words have the power to manipulate the perception of the listener. One factor that allows the speaker to manipulate the listener is because the listener lacks objectivity. This absence of objectivity comes from the inability of a listener to eliminate any emotional factors that might be influencing how they interpret the true meaning of a speaker’s words (Bizzell and Herzberg 23). Therefore, an individual may be limited by what they know and what they don’t know because another person might be deceiving them into believing that something they’re saying could either be true or false (Bizzell and Herzberg 43). In contrast, the sophistic movement states that individual knowledge can be expressed through the medium of language. Which allows a Greek citizen to make choices based upon the presentation of two opposing arguments. The individual person is capable of deciding for themselves which argument will have the most beneficial outcome (Bizzell and Herzberg 23)

The works of Gorgias has had a direct influence on the teaching methods of technical and professional writing. Specifically, practitioners of technical writing have criticized the overly scientific approach to technical writing which Miller calls the “positivist view” (Miller 615). As a result, it has created an atmosphere where the student in a technical writing class exhibits no emotion when engaging with a piece of writing (Miller 610). In order to rectify this problem, Miller intertwines some of Gorgias’ philosophy into her own approach. One example is that there exists an interdependent relationship between a reader and is in their reality. Thus, the reader cannot be separated from their reality (Miller 615). Therefore, facts and issues cannot be separated from the reality of both the reader and the author (Miller 615). This idea is taken directly from Gorgias rhetorical philosophy. The fact that he believed that knowledge must be based upon mutual experiences between two individuals. Further, he believed that from the basis of provisional knowledge a speaker could engage an individual in direct participation in the form of a discussion in a mutual language (Bizzell and Herzberg 42)
One way that the sophistic is that movement has contributed to the application of technical and professional writing is the manner in which reformers have borrowed some of their principles and incorporated those elements into a different paradigm. For example, Carolyn R Miller advocates a new framework that would place at the center of any analysis and examination of the relationship between a reader and what they are reading and whether it conforms to reality (Miller 615). This reform approach has a direct connection to the overall philosophy of the sophistic movement. For example, in determining whether the student’s interpretation of a text conforms to reality will be determined by the choices that the student makes in selecting the necessary words that he uses in articulating the relationship. So, therefore, the student must select certain words like will contribute the best possible outcome for their analysis.

(three): how does Isocrates view of student agency and responsibility inform and differ from current understandings of pedagogy?

Isocrates view of student agency both informs and differs in how the concept of student agency is taught within rhetorical rhetoric. Isocrates believed that student agency was derived from the natural ability or talents of his students to use rhetorical rhetoric “as a means to study and investigate solutions to practical problems (Bizzell and Herzberg 67). Therefore, Isocrates believed that public speaking is a form of rhetorical rhetoric that must be taught in which a teacher sets forth a procedural method that a student could use to persuade a particular audience. This method includes first composing a speech then rehearsing it (Bizzell and Herzberg 68). The end result of this philosophy is that it would assist a public speaker who is a Greek civil servant to identify a specific solution that would help address a need in their community or “kairos” (Bizzell and Herzberg 69). Isocrates’ emphasis on the individual has influenced the teaching method of rhetorical rhetoric in both written and oral forms today. For instance, science education has viewed rhetorical rhetoric and the teaching of technical writing solely through the prism of persuasion.
In her article A Humanistic Approach for Technical Writing, professor Carolyn R. Miller argues that the sciences have implemented a “positivist” approach to technical writing that sees the individual as being taught to only observe and accept the logical outcomes of an analysis or experiment (Miller 612). This is similar to the method advocated by Isocrates in that the individual is endowed with certain skills and abilities that identify solutions to particular scenarios and that solution is universal in its application (Bizzell and Herzberg 68). Therefore, the scientific perspective or “positivist” school would influence how universities teach rhetorical rhetoric since they advocate a perspective where the individual is the center of any analysis.

On the other hand, current practitioners Palczewski, Ice & Fritch offer a different approach from that of Isocrates. A common trend that is taking place in the study of rhetorical theory is to place the collective group at the center of an analysis. An example of this Palczewski, Ice & Fritch believe that student agency can be molded and shaped through the concept of identification (Palczewski, Ice and Fritch 8). “Identification is defined by rhetorical philosopher Kenneth Burke as being a communitive process through which people are unified as a whole on the basis of common interest or characteristics” (Palczewski, Ice and Fritch 8). In being able to identify with individuals the authors believe that through identification comes concepts of “citizenship” this is the concept of “wholeness” (Palczewski, Ice and Fritch 9).
This is where a group of people identifies through the common interest in terms of communal wants. Where the individual’s interests are balanced against the needs of the entire community. The end result of this analysis is the community engaging in symbolic action where rhetoric is used to propel civic society through the means of human beings sharing ideas and working together to make decisions about common concerns (Palczewski, Ice and Fritch 6). In the end, Isocrates’ perspective on student responsibility has influenced two pedagogical viewpoints to teach. One that places value on the individual over the community and an opposing viewpoint which places value on the members part of the community.

(four): Define the Sophistic doctrine of Kairos and explain how it compares and/or contrast with the modern theory of rhetorical situations?

The sophistic philosophy of Kairos has its genesis in the teaching philosophy of Isocrates, Isocrates viewed rhetoric as being an educational tool that would help cultivate men for Greek civil service (Bizzell and Herzberg 25). One concept that was central to the teaching philosophy of Isocrates was the concept of Kairos. Isocrates defines Kairos as “moral and rhetorical decisions that are born out of “the fitness for the occasion” (Bizzell and Herzberg 69). This is significant because Isocrates argued that rhetoric was to be used for practical purposes, where a civil servant would be able to identify arguments that would assist in solving practical problems in his community while still serving the national interest of Athens (Palczewski, Ice and Fritch 15).
The sophistic concept of Kairos influenced and informed on how rhetoric could be imparted to students to serve a practical purpose in Greek civic government. Sophistic teachers such as Isocrates wanted his students to identify arguments which would ultimately lead to specific solutions which would help civic leaders to make decisions that would help them better serve their community. Moreover, Sophists argue that moral teachings were to be excluded from rhetorical situations because teachers like Isocrates believed that a moral outlook on rhetoric was not the responsibility of a teacher it is up to an individual to formulate their own moral code outside of the study of rhetoric (Bizzell and Herzberg 70).

In contrast, modern approaches to rhetorical situations differ from the sophist perspective in that modern rhetoric focus on how moral elements affect situations. An example of this lying in Lloyd F. Bitzer’s article titled The Rhetorical Situation he argues that “rhetorical works is analogous to a moral action rather than to a tree. An act is moral because it is an act performed in a situation of a certain kind; similar, a work is rhetorical because of a response to a situation of a certain kind.” (Bitzer 3). Therefore, Bitzer argues that a speaker is driven to create a rhetorical situation that compels an audience to engage in a moral action. In order to propel this behavior, there are three obstacles that a speaker must overcome: exigency, audience, and constraints (Bitzer 6). If a speaker is able to overcome these three obstacles, then according to Bitzer the speaker will have effectively altered the perception and behavior of the audience then compelling them to engage in a moral action (Bitzer 7,8). 
In the final analysis, the inherent difference between the perspective of the sophistic movement and modern approaches to rhetorical situations centers around the moral element. The Sophists believe questions of morality are irrelevant in the teachings of rhetorical theory because they do not serve any practical purpose. Further, the Isocrates believe that any inclusion of a moral teaching would ignore the true purpose of rhetoric which is how to help create future civic leaders. On the other end of the spectrum, we see modern interpretations of rhetorical situations like that of Lloyd F. Bitzer emphasize the moral element of rhetoric because he views it as a means of transforming human behavior and interaction to engender actions that help form rhetorical situations.

Works Cited

Bitzer, Lloyd F. (1992). The Rhetorical Situation. Philosophy and Rhetoric 25 (1):1 – 14
Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzberg. “Gorgias.” Gorgias, pp. 42–46.
Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzberg. “Introduction.” pp. 19–41.Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzberg. “Isocrates.” Isocrates, pp. 67–74.
Miller, Carolyn R. “A Humanistic Rationale for Technical Writing.” College English, vol. 40, no. 6, Feb. 1979, pp. 610–617., doi:10.2307/375964.
Palczewski, Catherine Helen,et al. “Rhetoric as Symbolic Action.” Rhetoric as Symbolic Action, pp. 3–36.

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