Dialogical Rhetoric: An Essay on Truth and Normativity After Postmodernism

Communication Ethics
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Many advocates of a student-centered pedagogy, such as Berlin, suggest that relinquishing authority is a false idea. In other words, knowledge is not transferred but made in the process of critiquing the ideologies of all members of the class. As a solution, Berlin suggests addressing the dilemma about democratic discourse. Berlin even suggests that the students should be involved in the decisions about course assignments and due dates.

De-centering authority does not mean giving up control over the way class is conducted, the subject that is studied, the design of assignments or the assessment of student work. An archivist is in control of the direction that student research and class discussion takes as what the teacher is archivist of relies on her interests, research and educational background.

Likewise, a convener is in control of the topic, direction and manner of class discussion and of writing assignments that may develop from such discussions. Finally, the facilitator is in control of the tone, direction and progress of a class discussion by maintaining its momentum. It is not an environment in which the values and ideologies of a society are transferred to the students, but, rather, an environment in which they are presented to students in order for them to address, confront and, ultimately, critique them — a student-centered environment.

She asserts, moreover, that her role as teacher and her authority in the classroom is delegated to her by the students and the citizens who hired her. As demonstrated by the works discussed here, de-centering teacher authority means constructing knowledge rather than transferring positive knowledge.

By extension, knowledge becomes flexible and progressive rather than stagnant and fixed. I agree with Bizzell that students and teachers need to be held accountable to their society for the production of knowledge in a classroom. The knowledge that matters, after all, is the knowledge that is relevant to the student's society. The postmodern paradigm has resulted in fragmented and situated knowledges that have encouraged the development of critical pedagogies of empowerment and liberation that attempt to create student-centered and democratic discourse in the classroom, none of which can be easily described or practiced.

However, these pedagogical projects are not simply about teachers discarding or relinquishing authority. Just as the problem of teacher authority is a complex one, so too is the problem of a student-centered environment in which students are held accountable for knowledge production in the classroom. Moreover, what kind of empowerment is meant and to what degree a teacher can or does empower as opposed to indoctrinate students needs examination.

Chances are there will be no consensus on these ideals, which will then lead to further examination and debate about the roles of teachers, the purposes of an education and the production of knowledge. What I propose as a solution to this conflict is a dialogic critical pedagogy that combines social epistemology with discourse theory and critical pedagogy. After all, dialogue is fundamental to understanding and knowing. By providing a forum for examining the perspectives that the many epistemologies and critical theories offer, students are allowed an opportunity not only to critique the perspectives of feminism and formalism, for example, but also to critique their own politically and culturally situated epistemic perspectives.

Theory benefits from critically engaging not only resistances to it, but also attempts to make its "methods" of knowledge production normative. As the work of English Studies education is, primarily, interpretive and rhetorical practices — whether oral or written — classroom discourse must be an active and engaged discursive participation of the students with the teacher, the texts, one another and with theory and epistemology. A classroom dominated by a single theoretical and epistemological perspective, whether postmodernist or classical humanist, is an arena merely for the transference of standardized and institutionalized knowledge and "cultural capital.

The classroom dominated by shared critical discourse, on the other hand, is an arena for intellectual examinations of the subject, ideology, epistemology and for the creation of a "condition of knowledge" Felman A productive learning experience should encourage exploration and critique of what we know and do not yet know for all members of the classroom and a forum for critical discourse. As postmodern theory has demonstrated, it is imperative that we examine the historical and contemporary social formations that influence the making of a text as well as the reading of it.

A pedagogy grounded in social epistemology, discourse theory and critical pedagogy allows for the inclusion and utilization of various theories about culture, history, rhetoric, language, aesthetics and epistemics. Our understanding of history and of our present day society directly influence the way we communicate and interpret utterances.

Most important, however, is recognizing the role of language and literature as integral parts of a continuous discourse with present, past and future. By combining cross-temporal and trans-cultural theoretical examinations, and a self- reflective critique with interpretive and rhetorical practices the classroom becomes a place of engaged critical discourse. Moreover, a dialogic critical pedagogy can work equally well for any course in English Studies. For example, if I proposed a course for an introductory level English Studies course such as a British Literature survey course that provides chronological breadth, yet summary coverage of British literary traditions and conventions, then using a dialogic critical pedagogy allows students to find the trans-temporal and trans-disciplinary connections among the literature, the evolving theories of knowledge, rhetoric, language, aesthetics, ideology and British culture and history.

Allowing for a breadth of possible topics, moreover, invites discussion of historically undervalued subjects such as the roles of women and minorities, the development of the civil rights and women's rights movements and literature, and broader discussions of the classical texts poets are alluding to or drawing from in their works, as well as related political and social events and how they are presented or referenced.

Postmodernism in a nutshell - Jordan Peterson

Texts focusing on the individual, oppression of the working class, women and minorities invite discussions of the influence that theories of the individual, truth and knowledge as well as radicalism, revolutions and wars have on the political and social ideologies of periods and on an author's thematic focus. Finally, a dialogic critical pedagogy allows for a certain amount of flexibility in choosing topics for a course because the focus is on how texts represent a continuous dialogue about knowledge, rhetoric, ideology, aesthetics and epistemics.

A dialogic critical pedagogy, moreover, can be applied to any subject in English Studies or any combination of subjects in the humanities without over-emphasizing any one subject or text in particular but emphasizing, instead, their role in the production of knowledge. Although a more relativistic pedagogy presents its own problems namely, what texts should one teach and how to teach them we should consider the alternative: positivism and absolutism.

It is more intellectually productive for educators to affirm their own epistemological positions than to ignore the fact that knowledge is a material product of social practices. However, just as with teaching critical theory and radical pedagogy, the actual practice of a dialogic critical pedagogy can produce additional conflicts if all the theoretical factors are not taken into consideration, but also when students resist engaging in a radical, critical and social epistemic learning position. In several of my experiences attempting to fulfill this pedagogical project, I have confronted my own misconceptions of what it means not only to practice a social epistemic perspective about knowledge and learning, but also what it means to engage students in and facilitate an analytical and critical discourse that is necessary to the success of this pedagogy.

Many of these misconceptions relate to an ideology of education and the student's and teacher's roles and responsibilities that is in a state of conflict between postmodern theory debates about notions of excellence and the traditional literary curriculum, and between teaching practices and knowledge production. These misconceptions have presented me and, I suspect, many other radical pedagogues with significant challenges in achieving dialogic, radical and critical pedagogical projects. My experiences trying to engage students in a democratic critical dialogue have made me rethink and retheorize what it means to dialogue and how various dialogic practices undermine democratic critical dialogue in a classroom.

However, I prefer to think of my pedagogy as always in the process of becoming. Refiguring English Studies. Bizzell, Patricia Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzberg. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin's P. Eagleton, Terry Literary Theory: An Introduction. London: Blackwell Publishers Ltd. Ellsworth, Elizabeth Why Doesn't This Feel Empowering? Harvard Educational Review Felman, Shoshana Psychoanalysis and Education: Teaching Terminable and Interminable. The Pedagogical Imperative. Yale French Studies No.

Freire, Paulo Donaldo Macedo. What is the Dialogical Method of Teaching? Journal of Education Learning to Question: A Pedagogy of Liberation. New York: Continuum. Pedagogy of the City. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Myra Bergman Ramos.

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Chicago: Elephant Paperbacks. Guillory, John Chicago: U of Chicago P. McGill, Frank J Reading the Garden: Excursions into Walden. Richard J. New York: MLA. Macovski, Michael New York: Oxford UP. However, the applicability of relevance-based measures is limited Gemes An alternative is to define a measure of truthlikeness in terms of similarities, determined by a similarity metric, between the possible worlds in which the proposition is true and the actual world see Tichy ; Hilpinen ; Oddie ; Niiniluoto Throughout his life, Peirce formulated different versions of his semeiotic.

I will rely on his final account, formulated between and Atkin , for presenting a referential theory of meaning as a viable alternative to the Saussurean paradigm favored by the skeptics. My reasons for relying on his final account are twofold: first, the early account was compatible with idealism see Short 28ff , and second, his final, realist account draws an instructive parallel between semiosis , the overall process of sign interpretation CP 5.

A sign gets its meaning from interpretation whereby someone determines which object the sign refers to, since the relation between a sign and its referent is by itself insufficient to ground representation Misak 16; Pietarinen Meaning is, according to Peirce, an irreducibly triadic relation where a sign , s , that refers to an object , o , according to an interpretant i W2: ; Hookway 9, To be more specific:. This can be anything discussable, whether an individual or a collection, regardless of whether it exists or not CP 2. The object determines the sign by placing constraints on the sign for the successful representation of that object with respect to some of its relevant characteristics.

It is determined by the sign via the features of the object, and the way the sign represents it. This triadic relationship includes three referential relations: a sign directly refers to its object also known as denotation, or the real thing it represents , indirectly refers to the characteristics common to the objects also known as connotation, or, as Peirce calls it, the ground of the object , and indirectly refers to the interpretant which provides the totality of the facts known about the object information, according to Peirce CP 2.

At each intermediate stage of semiosis, both the object and interpretant are developed up to that point based both on previous stages and in anticipation of the presumed future course of interpretation that would culminate in a complete understanding of the object Ransdell The endpoint of this gradual process is the dynamic object the real object as it is truly known at the end of semiosis Ransdell , n; Hookway which is accessed via the final interpretant or the true understanding of the dynamic object at the end of inquiry see CP 8.

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Each intermediate step involves the dynamic interpretant our understanding of the relationship between the sign and the dynamic object, as determined by the sign, at any intermediate stage of semiosis that is connected with and constitutes the immediate object the dynamic object as it appears at any interim stage of semiosis and differs from it due to partially mistaken or erroneous interpretations CP 4. It explains the difference between success and failure as well as truth and falsehood in interpretation. The success of an interpretant depends on reality, the dynamic object, not on representation, the immediate object ibid.

Collateral experience, in turn, is the interpretation of different signs as signs of the same object on the basis of experience that acquaints us with the object referred to by the sign CP 8. Signs can be corrected and supplemented because the same dynamic object can be represented by different signs, and false or incomplete representations can contain enough truth to enable one to identify the object and provide a more accurate representation Short Because experience is characterized by three basic features or categories: firstness is the mode of being of things that are without reference to anything else, such as appearances or qualities of feeling CP 8.

It supports the conjecture that there is something that would exist as it is, irrespective of whether it is perceived, represented or experienced. That something is the dynamic object, the end-point or limit of semiosis, which ensures that the final interpretant, the interpretant we should all agree on in the long run, is at least potentially obtainable. This also accounts for the self-correcting nature of semiosis, which is based on the supplementation of signs.

In his most famous trichotomy, Peirce distinguished between three kinds of signs: icons signs that exhibit firstness and refer to their objects in virtue of their properties EP2: ; CP 2. According to Peirce, all propositions are informational symbols. To convey genuine information, a proposition must be true:. If anything is true , definitely and decidedly true, that of which it is said to be true may be in some sense a creation of the mind.

Still, once created, it must be in a measure independent of thought, so that merely denying the truth of what is asserted shall not destroy its truth. Otherwise, it does not mean anything to say it is true. MS 9. For an index involves the existence of its Object. The definition adds that this Object is a Secondness, or real Fact. EP In other words, genuine information reflects on or reports about some state of affairs that was in direct reaction with the original observing mind present at the source of information De Tienne Thus, he explains the purposefulness of semiosis by incorporating the doctrine of final causation into his theory of signs.

He defines final causation as follows:. The general result may be brought about at one time in one way, at another time in another way. Final causation does not determine in what particular way it is to be brought about, but only that the result shall have a certain general character. A sign is an object made by a party we will call the utterer, and determined by his idea, which is the sense or depth of the sign, in order to create in the mind of the interpreter an interpretant idea of the same object.

MS L 1. He also repeatedly emphasizes that all thought and deliberative reasoning is dialogical:.

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The person divides himself into two parties which endeavor to persuade each other. From this and sundry other strong reasons, it appears that all cognitive thought is of the nature of a sign or communication from an uttering mind to an interpreting mind. MS Although in all direct experience of reaction, an ego, a something within, is one member of the pair, yet we attribute reactions to objects outside of us.

When we say that a thing exists, what we mean is that it reacts upon other things. That we are transferring to it our direct experience of reaction is shown by our saying that one thing acts upon another. This is particularly obvious in voluntary acts; but it is equally true of reactions of sense.

Thinking always proceeds in the form of a dialogue, — a dialogue between different phases of the ego, — so that, being dialogical, it is essentially composed of signs, as its Matter, in the sense in which a game of chess has the chessmen for its matter. He seems to have anticipated 20th century ludic developments in logic, viz.

A benefit of treating semiosis as a semantic dialogue or game between an Utterer and an Interpreter is that this allows us to explain the goal-directed nature of semiosis without appealing to final causation, since goal-directed processes and purposeful activities, such as interpretation or inquiry, can be understood as games Hintikka A semantic dialogue game is an interpretative process associated with a particular sign. There are two players , quasi- minds capable of interpretation, who can occupy the roles of Utterer , who transmits a sign, or Interpreter , who interprets it.

These roles can be occupied be humans, animals or nature. Every semantic dialogue game is an attempt at the verification by one of the players or falsification by the opposing player of a given sign. Each player has a strategy , that is, a plan of action Carmichael 4 that consists of instructions for choosing and evaluating alternative actions in light of what the player ought to choose Pietarinen 84, , For Peirce, meaning is a habit.

This notion served a similar function for him as strategy does for games: both are exemplified by individual actions, both are plans of action for all possible circumstances, and both are involved in the interpretation of signs see CP 5. Each player has a payoff that measures how well they are doing in all possible outcomes of the game. Payoffs determine which player wins verifies or falsifies the sign , and which player loses. A sign is true if the Interpreter has a winning strategy in the correlated game, viz.

The Interpreter wins if he can verify the truth of the sign, and loses otherwise, while the Utterer wins if he can falsify the sign, and loses otherwise cf. Hintikka The Interpreter wins if the sign represents the dynamic object as it truly is if the sign is true of the object , and the Utterer wins if it does not. Hence semiosis, which determines the meaning of a sign , is an interactive process that gives rise to the totality of all actions, possible or actual, that do, might, will or would arise, as a consequence of playing the game in different contexts and settings cf. Pietarinen But it is well-known that repeated plays or games in evolutionary settings tend to converge on stable equilibrium outcomes.

Likewise, repetition or evolution can drive a semantic dialogue to a determinate and stable outcome. But the problem of equilibrium selection shows that there can be multiple stable outcomes of a game-like interactive process, and there seem to be no reliable criteria for determining which of these is chosen, or whether the chosen outcome is optimal. This would fulfill the first desideratum for truthlikeness in historiography: an ontologically modest referential theory of meaning.

The best known among these is the following:. Different minds may set out with the most antagonistic views, but the progress of investigation carries them by a force outside of themselves to one and the same conclusion. This activity of thought by which we are carried, not where we wish, but to a foreordained goal, is like the operation of destiny. No modification of the point of view taken, no selection of other facts for study, no natural bent of mind even, can enable a man to escape the predestinate opinion. This great law is embodied in the conception of truth and reality.

The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate, is what we mean by the truth, and the object represented in this opinion is the real. That is the way I would explain reality. W3: Mind-independent reality constrains the scientific community, which employs the scientific method, in a way that the inquiries and judgments of its members lead them, in the long run, to the belief as well as the agreement that p is true; truth draws us toward itself Ransdell ; Hookway It is fallibilist, since although inquirers will eventually reach the truth, at no point in the process is there any guarantee that their current beliefs will not be falsified by further evidence Hookway , An absolutely true proposition is the ideal limit of inquiry.

These ideas place Peirce within a broader tradition of thinking about truthlikeness that stretches from Nicholaus Cusanus to Karl Popper. On her reconstruction, truth depends on humans to the extent that it is a property of beliefs and beliefs are mental states of humans ibid. Truth is convergence toward consensus at the end an indefinitely prolonged inquiry.

It is not convergence in the sense of decreasing erroneousness of theories as they approach the truth, because convergence in this sense is about approaching the limit while consensus is about agreement ibid. Convergent truth is objective not because it would correspond to reality by the end of inquiry but because it would be believed by a final community of inquirers at the end of inquiry ibid.

If such an account aspires to be metaphysically modest, then it should not appeal to final causation. This view of inquiry is reminiscent of the Socratic elenchus — inquirers interrogate nature and nature responds.

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Taking a clue from the dialogical interpretation of semiosis, I propose that inquiry, too, can be treated as a type of dialogue, viz. It can be understood as a two-player game, where one player is the Inquirer and the other is Nature. The goal is for one player, the Inquirer, to elicit or make explicit tacit information possessed by the other player, Nature.

The Inquirer can, among others things, make interrogative moves that consist in addressing questions to Nature.

Questions are essentially requests for information, the specification of which is the specification of the epistemic state the questioner wants to be brought about Hintikka , They elicit tacit information. A question is more informative than another if answers to it are more informative than answers to another. In the context of natural science, questions can be thought of as observations, in the context of historiography, they can be thought of as explanatory hypotheses. The assumption is that for each question there is a certain set of potential answers.

In historiography, answers can be construed as explanations of hypotheses by the evidence. The Inquirer wins if he is able to verify the thesis expressed in his question. The method of science, according to Peirce, has two parts-the logic of science, which is voluntary since we can control the methods we apply in our reasoning, and experience which is involuntary Misak The methods and inference rules employed in an information-seeking dialogue are given by its definitory rules Hintikka 7.

These can be construed as codifying the shared methods of a scientific community. The strategic rules of an information-seeking dialogue tell the player how to play well in order to increase his or her chances of reaching the goal ibid.

Each partial answer in the sequence of questions and answers in an information-seeking dialogue is a truthlike claim about some past event. Competing historiographies are competing explanations of the evidence that posit different descriptions of historical events to explain the evidence Tucker Disagreements are due to the absence of knowledge of history, incomplete theories, and the underdetermination of evidence by theories ibid. Information-seeking dialogues with the evidence of past events left by nature understood here as including past human agents account for the truth factor in truthlikeness.

This should be distinguished from consensus, since, as Misak has argued, the two are different.

In the context of historiography, however, consensus among a sufficiently large, uncoerced, and uniquely heterogeneous group of historians is an indicator of historical knowledge ibid. Consensus is attained within the community through argumentation and persuasion. The evidence used for persuasive purposes is acquired in inquiry. If persuasion is successful, that is, if it manages to create consensus within the community, then the evidence as well as the associated explanatory hypothesis become part of historical knowledge.

Thus convergence and consensus should be seen as two mechanisms that determine the truth and likeness i.

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This is a game between two players that starts with a conflict of opinions where one player holds one thesis or hypothesis, and the other either denies it or holds a contrary hypothesis. The overall goal is the resolution or clarification of an issue that is the cause of the conflict of opinions. This is done by proving or disproving the thesis Walton , 11; Walton a: The underlying value of this type of dialogue is respect for the truth Walton a: This supports the goal of resolving the conflict of interests by rational argumentation, which can involve or take the form of narration, in order to approach truth as an ideal.

What could fulfill a similar function in historiography? Following Georg Iggers, I suggest that we look to plausibility:. It assumes that the historical account relates to a historical reality, no matter how complex and indirect the process is by which the historian approximates this reality. Iggers A hypothesis or claim is plausible if it appears true under normal circumstances and familiar types of situations, in light of the credentials represented by the bases of its credibility Walton b: 71; Rescher For example, given two competing explanatory hypotheses of evidence, the one that is more in line with our understanding of how things typically are in the world is more plausible.

A hypothesis or claim is prima facie plausible if it has sufficient epistemic support for additional inquiry Bartha Both scientific inquiry and convergence to truth occur within a community. When an inquirer asserts a proposition and assents to it, viz. The asserted proposition is presented as being truthlike. Asserting such a proposition forms part of the practice of cooperative inquiry within the scientific community.

The scientific community is held together by the practice of assertion. He who asserts a proposition is trying to get other community members to believe it. Assertion is the vehicle for scientific debate. Once a public assertion is made, the asserted proposition is open to criticism.

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If the assertion was improper or the proposition false, then it is eventually withdrawn see Hookway 65, , 70, , The plausibility of an asserted proposition is settled by consensus reached through narrative argumentation in a persuasion dialogue. Rhetorical strategies, narrative structures, evidence — all of these are employed by the historian to increase the plausibility of his or her account in the eyes of the community.

They engage in information-seeking dialogues with their evidence in order to arrive at informative and true claims about the past. They address the often partial answers obtained from those dialogues to other community members, and try to persuade them of the truthlikeness of their thesis or explanatory hypothesis about the evidence. The likeness of those claims to the truth is determined by the outcomes of persuasion dialogues with other members of the community.

The measure of truthlikeness of a claim about the past is determined by the informativeness of the answers obtained from information-seeking dialogues with the evidence, and its plausibility and rational acceptability at the end of a persuasion dialogue with other members of the scientific community. This view rests on a particular theory of meaning which is subject to criticism. A plausible account of truthlikeness would go some way toward justifying optimistic fallible realism about historiography.

Defining an actual measure of truthlikeness within the limits set by the framework introduced here is beyond the scope of the present essay. Similarity-based approaches define truthlikeness in terms of distances between possible worlds.

gyecimolorbe.ml/tequila-sunrise-hard-core-men-1.php Dialogues qua games can be viewed in standard form represented by matrices or in extensive form represented by trees or directed graphs. One option would be to explore distance measures between the vertices of a graph as a basis for a measure of truthlikeness. Future research will have to determine the viability of this approach. Zalta, ed. Accessed November, Bartha Paul F. Bex J. Lenhart eds. Burger Isabella C. Collingwood R. Culler Jonathan, , Saussure , London, Fontana.

Accessed November 30, Ewing A. Fisher Walter R. Goldstein Leon J. Heider Eleanor R. Reidel Publishing Company, Martens eds. Reidel, Hookway Christopher J. Hunt Lester H. Iggers Georg G. Zalta ed. Misak Cheryl J. Murphey Murray G. Niiniluoto Ilkka, , Truthlikeness , Dordrecth, D. Reidel Publishing Company. Osborne Martin J. Pavel Thomas G. Peirce Charles S.

Abbreviated by CP followed by volume and paragraph number. Peirce: A Chronological Edition , Vols. Moore, Christian J. Kloesel et al. Abbreviated by W, followed by volume number and page number. Popper Karl R. Saarinen Esa, ed. Saussure Ferdinand de, , Course in General Linguistics , eds. Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye, tr. Kuipers ed. Sebeok Thomas A. Short T.

Stalnaker Robert C. Straffin Philip D. Lorenzen and K. Erik, Snoeck Henkemans A. Wittgenstein Ludwig, , Philosophical Investigations , 4th edition, G. Anscombe, P. A strong interpretation would deny the existence of objects and their properties in some domain e. A weaker interpretation would deny the existence of objects but could affirm the existence of properties attributed to them e. Regarding reference to the past, suffice it to say that historical discourse employs natural language, and one of the metaphysical presuppositions of natural language semantics seems to be that past moments of time and past places can be the referents of ordinary language expressions see Bach For a dissenting view, see Misak , Author retains copyright and grants the European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.

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