The first chapter the book focuses on the different uses of rhetorical realism as well as contradictory rhetorical realism. The author achieves this by defining the linguistic albeit through constructionism in grammar. According to the author, constructionism as a belief should be upheld and throughout the chapter, the author analyzes the essential part of symbolism and observation. This is where the author refers humans as a symbol-using/misusing animal and that without language, there would be little or no difference between human and animals.
There are three main themes in the first chapter of the book namely "The Range of Rhetoric" which forms and sets up the main Burkeian concepts of both Identification and Consubstantiality. The other theme in this chapter focuses on the "Traditional Principles of Rhetoric" that is aimed at reworking Burke’s framework using other diverse texts to support the hypothesis. The third theme in the chapter focuses on the "Order" tends to develop a positive dialectical terms that that establish an idea from a paradigmatic of the rhetorical process.
Chapter two of this book portrays the theories that support the artificial approach to determine the rhetoric that correspond to a motive. According to the author, man emerged as a more superior being by inventing symbols. The author says that symbols and socioeconomic practices are in some way linked together both in a more genetic and structural context. In this chapter, the latter theory is found to be in some way popularized at the expense of former theories. The author says that during his earlier years, the reason why he decided to change from aesthetics and pursue rhetorical ideologies is as a result of the popularization of the latter theory and the expense of previous theories.
In this chapter, Burke’s definition of rhetoric is that the term is used by human agents as a grammatical strategy of forming attitudes or inducing action in other human agents. The use of rhetoric in language is a means of inducing cooperation from another party as well as being a form that nature responds to symbols. In most occurrences, even though rhetoric may be purposive, it is often subtly unconscious. This implies that the scope of rhetoric is based on the general perception of both the author and general basis that where there is persuasion, there is rhetoric. Burke further goes on to state in this chapter that where there is meaning there is undoubtedly persuasion.
Chapter three of this book focuses on the themes of permanence and change. The author analyses his previous work published in 1935 titled a Biological Subject of History. The author says that he derived his inspiration from the depression era that hit the US during the earlier years of his writing career. Burke proposes that human beings tend to rely on ratios between five main elements namely; act scene, agency and purpose. This is what leads to the perception that communication is more a form of action rather than instinct. Burke pursues literacy criticism not in the more used formalistic enterprise but rather in a more sociological context in the sense that it has more sociological impact than having a formalistic impact.
In this chapter, the author carries out a close analysis on the rhetorical forms and their impacts on different scenarios. According to Burke, there are three process that run in sequence regarding a listener that are; anticipation, participation and gratification. Chapter three covers extensively the three types of form as described by the author. The three types of form are conventional form, repetitive form and progressive form. In concluding this chapter, the author states that dramatism is one of the key metaphors that treat language as a mode of action.
Chapter four of this book depicts Burke interest towards dialect which in later years generates to dramatism. Dramatism invites us to consider the matter of motives in a perspective that is developed from the analysis of drama treats language and thought primarily as modes of action and not as practical objectives in life"(pg.21). The author goes further to expand the field of human ways mainly of both persuasion and identification. Persuasion according to Burke has no clear definition but "ranges from the bluntest quest of advantage. Identification on the other hand can be used to refer to such situations as a politician who when addressing a crowd of farmers states that even he was farm boy.
The philosophy in chapter five is based on literacy forms. The author argues that history with the subtraction of telos or origin has major implications on history itself, rhetoric and even philosophy. Burke uses dramatism in giving meaning to oppositions such as action/knowledge and action/motion, which he agrees in one of his works, that history without origin seems to displace philosophy. In this chapter, the author argues that reality has only been built based on the symbol system that exists amongst us. This implies that without the learning aids such as atlases and encyclopedia, we would have little or no knowledge of what is happening around us.
Chapter six of the book analyzes the influence of dialect on the constitution. According to Burke, ideology can be incorporated in rhetoric since it has the capacity to constitute individuals who are concrete, as subjects. There is an existing relationship between fact and fiction and the dialectic interpretation of constitutions does not in any way according to Burke, define or alter the rules of the game. According to Burke, there are different believes amongst people such as capitalism, feudalism, socialism and mysticism or materialism. However, each individual belief has its own vocabulary that describes how the world operates and how different things work.
Chapter seven of the book portrays Burke’s framework using other diverse texts to support the hypothesis such as his preference of Spinoza to Descartes. According to Burke, key to identification is circumference. One way in which Burke succeeds in ensuring rhetoric modernism is the push for the opposition of the more rhetorical view point of many philosophers that ideology pertains to identification. The fact that language according to Burke is a key identification for humanity is not the subject or the question. The author insinuates just like Karl Marx, that social classifications arise not because we as human beings are class animals, but due to the fact that we do tend to be classifying animals.
In the final chapter, the author invokes the paradigm of rhetorical by invoking the readers on his position and the position of his philosophy. Burke raises the question whether he should break from religious obligations creates a difference in his works, and whether or not he shows inconsistency in terms of early, middle and late stages of his persona in his works. In addition, in his preordination, Burke succeeds in creating a brilliant picture of his young times and his old ones. The difference is there, but ideas and concepts are actualized from old ones. In conclusion, the author states that most rhetorical also exists as other elements depending on one's point of view, even if officially the orator only uses words.
Weaknesses of the Book
The decision to present himself in his preordination probably jeopardized the consistency of the whole book. It is important that one should see the author as having had full authority over his person when writing the work. However, this is not so in the last chapter of the book. Burke seems very unconfident, almost uncomfortable and it impacts negatively on the whole flow of the book, particularly the conclusion. There is also conflict of interest in terms of understanding the influence of language in relation to rhetoric. According to Burke, humanity can achieve the ability to cooperate symbolically trough either consubstantiality, or identification. However, many critics of the book have expressed concern over whether the same cannot be achieved through mystery and magic.
“The resources of identification whereby a sense of consubstantiality is symbolically established between beings of unequal status may extend far into the realm of the idealistic... arise a kind of magic or mystery that sets its mark upon all human relationships’ (Pg. 46). From this quote, it is easy to deduce that Burke contradicts though knowingly, the inference of rhetoric essentials by characterizing its rigidity. This may seem comprehensible to fellow philosophers, but to mere readers, it may be subject to much debate.
Strengths of the Book
The book is very personal and meditative. It shows and actualizes ways in which rhetoric expands into human ways of identification. The symbolism used to describe the importance of persuasion, succeeds in enlightening the reader of the different forms of persuasion such as pure form and the ideal persuasion. Though the author was well over 70 at the time of his death, he did maintain and was very consistent in the use of intellectual adherents to popularize his arguments. This is something that could have otherwise impeded the understanding of this brilliant literary achievement.
The book in addition, has contributed a wealth of information on rhetorical literature, politics, social sciences as well as facilitating postmodernism. In the quote, “is not rooted in any past condition of human society. It is rooted in an essential function of language itself, a function that is wholly realistic, and is continually born anew; the use of language as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation in beings that by nature respond to symbols” (Pg. 43), Burke Strives to let be known ways in which humanity can be improved by understanding the workings of linguistics as in language.