Archive for July, 2009

Primarily, I am here today to write about Cicero, about the first 100 pages of De Oratore. But thinking about Cicero makes me think about my own past. About the void, the separation, between rhetoric and philosophy. Now, I do rhetoric. In college and my first Master’s degree, I did philosophy. So I straddle the void. (more…)


The next two articles I’ve looked at for the summer of exam reading (part one) are Carolyn Miller’s A Humanistic Rational for Technical Writing and Steven B. Katz The Ethics of Expediency. Both of these I have read about, and even blogged about before. But that was then, and this is now. So let’s start with Humanism and move to the Holocaust. All page number references are from Central Works in Technical Communication.

When I went to reread this article, I found that the things interesting to me the first time were also interesting to me the second, but for different reasons. When Miller says “Technical and scientific rhetoric becomes the skill of subduing language so that it most accurately and directly transmits reality” (48), I initially thought that was important, but obvious. Now I’m not so sure. The purpose of rhetoric seems to be one of moving. Moving other people down a path of reasoning or of action. So now I disagree. Technical and scientific rhetoric is not a skill of subduing language. It’s a skill of using language to transmit the reality that the writer sees.

This could be back to my philosophy roots, but I’m starting to doubt that reality can be directly transmitted.