Identification in Burkean rhetoric

Identification In Burkean Rhetoric

Identification in Burkean rhetoric

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Identification is a key term for the discussion of rhetoric in Kenneth Burke′s A Rhetoric of Motives. He uses it to evaluate the traditional perception of rhetoric as persuasion. Burke suggests that whenever someone attempts to persuade someone else, identification occurs, because for persuasion to occur, one party must "identify" with another. That is, the one who becomes persuaded sees that one party is like another in some way. Burke's definition of identification works not only in relation to the self (e.g. that tree has arms and is like me, thus I identify with that tree) it also refers to exterior identification (e.g. that man eats beef patties like that group, thus he is identified with that beef-patty-eating group). One can perceive identification between objects that are not the self.

A Rhetoric of Motives opens with an analysis of John Milton's Samson Agonistes and Matthew Arnold's Empedocles on Etna; from his analysis, Burke eventually extricates the term “identification.” From there, Burke uses the term to reclaim certain elements of rhetoric that have fallen away, while simultaneously expanding it to show how “identification” supplements traditional emphases on persuasion as central. The concept of identification, argues Burke, gives us an additional way of looking at rhetoric's role in human relations, specifically ways in which people enact social cohesion.

Identification and the Realm of Rhetoric

In particular, the concept of...
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