Burke, Purpose, Rubric

Taking a break from work I have to finish, I grabbed Burke's Grammar of Motives off the shelf. I found this great paragraph from the chapter "Agency and Purpose" challenging notions of neutral instrumentalism (that our instruments measure without purpose or perspective, that they measure substance rather than create it). My next major project concerns increasing assessment and standardization, and I think I'll use this passage juxtaposed against the call for rubrics:

Though our laboratory instruments may transcend human purpose, they exist only as the result of human purpose. And we might even say that they perform satisfactorily without purpose only because they have purpose imbedded in their structure and design. An instrument like a thermometer has its purpose so thoroughly built into its very nature, that it can do its work without purpose, merely by continuing to be itself. (281)

Exerting purpose simply by being there, such that purpose (power, force) becomes invisible.

1 comment:

Banes Tribulation said...

"Exerting purpose simply by being there"

a fact hundreds of years ago....today, not so much, for humans or instruments...