In An Uncertain World, We Are NOT Uncertain Alone

Upon starting to read my assignment, which I left until the last possible moment to do and instead made both mac-n-cheese and bacon for dinner before completing, I’ve found myself fully comforted by Booth’s statement: “My first problem lies of course in the very word ‘rhetoric.’ I was tempted, as I have often been in the past, to define that slippery term once and for all, but i have resisted, even though to grapple with its ambiguities would illustrated beautifully Ryerson lecturers are notoriously nervous nellies.”

Not only does Booth demonstrate a tone and particular feeling of resistance that I adore and connect to, but also brings into the conversation the worst fear of the more I know about rhetoric, the less I feel like I know about rhetoric. Every time someone’s first rhetorical analysis comes in at work I feel a little bit like this.

However, from Katie’s post on the interdisciplinary understanding of rhetoric and the use of rhetoric makes me think of my struggle with writing for popular audiences in Science Writing last semester and how thankful I am for the people I know who completely appear skilled in understanding things they aren’t experts. These people are incredible, but completely realistically, Booth continues to explain that there are very, very few people who are experts in more than one field (look to 232, second paragraph). This basic, “master of all trades” style idea.

“If we know and understand only what we can prove–with empirical observation, or with statistics, or with rigorous logical deduction– we will never know whether a colleague is woth listening to or promoting, unless we ourselves can follow his or her proofs, in detail, and then replicate them. All else is dubious, all else is guesswork, all else is blind faith.” Gross. These lines alone make me think about the struggle of “logic versus emotion” we discussed last semester. Why do we keep pulling on things and pretending we can remove emotion from them? We are emotional people.

Booth tries to simply the different rhetorics he discussing it into three separate pieces:

Rhetoric 1: “Hard proof” (Booth says if that will make you feel better about it).

Rhetoric 2: “General rhetoric”

Rhetoric 3: “Academic rhetoric”

I list these here because the article lost me in some places and I don’t know if that’s because I got lost somewhere beneath drinking caffeine that I never really feels like it makes me “more awake” or if it’s because of the exhaustion I somehow already feel at this point in the semester because of my need to do nothing but run away and visit my best friend who lives too far away in this weather to get to. But I’m sorry that this couldn’t be more well thought out of a response to the text we’re reading that I would otherwise be thrilled to read.

I’m more than certain that I will be able to better at looking at this article more in depth once tomorrow hits… Hopefully.


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