Burke, Sophistry, and Ecological Rhetoric

I wrote this in response to a graduate students' project on Kenneth Burke. I didn't want to lose it, so I'll stick it here:

Burke shares quite a bit with the Sophists because they both believe that rhetoric is metaphysical, rather than representational. That is to say, language doesn’t simply report on an already existing reality; rather, language participates in bringing reality into being. This does not mean that all reality--for Burke or the Sophists-- is merely language (a critique often thrust upon poststructuralists); there is a material world out there. But we do not have direct access to that material world, we always engage it through our consciousness, through our culture, through words, ideas, preconceptions, expectations, moods, ideologies, identities, technologies, locales, dispositions, injuries, etc.

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