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Perspectives on Human Communication – 2005. Dr. Willard Uncapher [email protected] Mon-Fri 8/29,31 & 9/2/2005 – Rhetoric and Comm. Frameworks [Please Fill out Attendance Sheet]. Media History Overview. Historical Periods – a timeline I.Oral (3 million - 3500 bce.)

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Perspectives on Human Communication – 2005

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Perspectives on Human Communication – 2005

Dr. Willard Uncapher

[email protected]

Mon-Fri 8/29,31 & 9/2/2005 – Rhetoric and Comm. Frameworks

[Please Fill out Attendance Sheet]


Media History Overview

  • Historical Periods – a timeline

  • I.Oral (3 million - 3500 bce.)

  • includes dance, etc.- question is how info transmitted

  • and stored; how is culture transmitted & formed

  • II.(Hand) Written

  • a. glyphic, syllabic, etc (3500 bce. - 750 bce. approx.)

  • b. alphabetic (750 bce. - 1450 ce.)

  • III.Typographic (1450 - 1830 ce.)

  • printing press- mass media, newspapers

  • IVa.Electronic I (1830s- 1940s approx.)

  • telegraph, telephone, electric light

  • info become independent of space; short

  • IVb.Electronic II (1945- present)

  • (interactive) computers, multi-media fusions


Oral Era - (3 million - 3500 bce)

  • Words Have Power – How do words come to have meaning?

  • Bards, [Mobads, Brahmins]- poets who can remember

    • Greek Homeric tales; Sanskrit- Rg Veda;

    • Oral ‘Literature’ as performance

    • William Parry (Greece) and Alfred Lord (Yugoslavia)– Bards did exist!

  • Mnemonics- How is culture transmitted & stored between generations, and between communities?

    • Poetry- has rhyme, rhythm, repetitions – 'wise nestor' ‘Clever Odysseus‘


(Hand) Written II- Alphabetic (750 bce- 1450 ce approx.)

  • Origins – Used in commerce, then government, & only later in religion and story. Sumerians and clay. Letters among Merchants

  • Scribes – Professionals learn how to write and read, and so gain a special power.

  • Glyphs- Writing from symbols, to syllabaries

  • Books scarce until era of printing - scarce books & documents designed to be memorized to feed a vibrant oral culture

  • Alphabet Revolution? Many writing systems without vowels- Greeks add vowels to perfect efficient (‘digital’) system

  • ‘Democratization’? Because easier to learn system, to learn new words – still, rights for women, slaves, non-citizens were more limited

  • Greeks & Rhetoric? – a period of transition from ‘oral’ to ‘limited (hand) written’ culture – with alphabet, there is enough literacy to impact how society is organized, teachings its young, relates to its elders, and values knowledge!


Rhetoric and the Study of Languages

  • Study of Languages is ancient – not simply Greek

  • Formal Grammarians and Rhetoricians – seem to arise with spread of writing.

  • Panini – Ancient Indian Grammarian – (300 BCE) – Studies grammar of Sanskrit as a universal Language

    • comprehensive and scientific theory of phonetics, phonology, and morphology

    • “Sanskrit" means "complete" or "perfect" and it was thought of as the divine language, or language of the gods


Rhetoric in Greece

  • Study of Language

    • According to Aristotle, Corax ‘invented’ rhetoric in Syracuse (Sicily) around 476 B.C.

    • Corax’s student, Tisias, is said to have further developed the skills of rhetoric and then brought them to mainland Greece

  • Rhetoric as ‘persuasive discourse’

    • “discipline given to the analysis, design, critique, and delivery of words intended to influence the attitudes or behaviors of a specific audience”

    • Isocrates – sounds like a lawyer, argues about who should pay debts

  • Rhetoric as a (formal) study of language

    • Study of ‘communication’ / tropes or figures of speech


Why does Rhetoric arise in Greece?

  • Athens experiment in democracy provides new place for public debate to influence public policy.

  • Need for persuasive speech in legal cases (Isocrates)

  • Oral expression and skilled oratory were admired and popular for entertainment.


The Sophists

  • Teachers emerged in the 5th century (B.C.) to teach rhetorical skills.

  • Sophist means “bearer of wisdom.”

  • Some taught wisdom (Socrates).

  • Some taught eloquence (Gorgias).

  • Others taught both wisdom and eloquence (Isocrates).


Isocrates (436-338 B.C.)

  • In his Antidosis, Isocrates defined the field of rhetoric and its importance in human affairs.

  • Elevates political and public interest over more philosophical and private interest

  • Isocrates believed that oratory was an art.

  • Importance of practical wisdom

  • Excellence could be attained only through:

    • Talent: development of an existing aptitude,

    • Education: extensive knowledge of subject matter,

    • Application: rigorous practice.


Plato (427-347 B.C.)

  • Dialogue: “Phaedrus” – discusses rhetoric

  • Emphasizes reason and ideals

  • Dialectic vs Rhetoric

    • Dialectic [analysis and synthesis of formal reasoning],

  • Rhetoric is an art to be learned

    • Speeches organized like living organisms

    • psychagogia--which translates into "soul-leading"--describes the nature of rhetoric

  • Writing is a copy of a copy

    • Will it weaken memory?


Aristotle (394-322 B.C.)

  • Flourished after Plato, teacher of Alexander the Great, known for his walking lectures (The “Peripatetic Philosopher”).

  • A scientist and observer of nature

    • Provided many explanations about how nature (physical, biological, psychological, etc) worked

    • Provided rules for reason and thought

    • Contrast with Plato:

      • Deductive Thought – reasoning from accepted basic/first principles (Plato) – look by to Pythagoras & Mathematics

      • Inductive Thought – reasoning based on experience and evidence; from a particular case (Aristotle)


Aristotle’s Rules of Logic:For the same of argument… you must accept these!

  • The Law of Identity – “A = A” – Things are what they are, and stay the same.

    • Eg. Men, Women as categories with consistent qualities.

    • Some argue this ‘law’ is not properly in Aristotle – from Middle Ages

  • The Law of the Excluded Middle – “A or not A” – Something either is or is not.

    • Eg. Either someone is a Human or they are not.

    • Some argue [later] for 3 values – yes, no, maybe

  • The Law of Contradiction – “A and not A can’t both be true” – contradictory statements can’t both be true.

    • Eg. One can’t be both human and non-human.


Syllogism and EnthymemesHow do you string ideas, assumptions, and connections together in an ‘argument’? It’s harder than it seems!

  • Syllogism – is a three part ‘argument’ with:

    • a major premise (“All humans are mortal”);

    • a minor premise (“Socrates is a human”); and

    • a conclusion (“Socrates is a mortal”)

  • Enthymeme – is a syllogism with an unstated assumption; can usually be restated as deductive syllogism

    • “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy." —Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle, 1988. (The hidden premises might be, Jack Kennedy was a great man, and you are not a great man.)

    • “The beautiful women, draped across the dashing red sports car... there is no logical connection between the two, but the advertiser would like to imply a premise that there is. If the advertiser came out and said "Buy this car and you will have more sexual satisfaction" it might be easier to reject as a premise.

  • Note: If the premises of the syllogism are invalid, the syllogism or enthymeme (argument) can be refuted.


Aristotle (continued)

  • Aristotle produced the first “textbook” on Rhetorical skills.

    • Aristotle’s Rhetoric combined the ethical concerns of Isocrates and Plato with the sophist’s practical ideas about persuasion.

    • Rhetoric combines dialectic, psychology, and persuasion.

      • [Contrast this with later theories of communication of Chapter 2: eg. channel, noise, feedback, social norms, etc.]

  • Three Elements to Poetics and Arguments [do memorize]

    • Ethos: ethical behavior which establishes the speakers good character and personal credibility. Speaks to the cultural side

      • What makes someone credible? Why might this be ‘cultural’ in nature?

    • Pathos: psychological tactics which bring the audience into an emotional state favorable to the speaker’s position or arguments.

      • What gets you excited, worried, impressed by a topic?

    • Logos: logical arguments which either make a case (or appear to make

      • What good reasons are there for you do accept or do something?


Cicero (106-43 B.C.) – ‘fancy language’

  • Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman orator, lawyer, and practicing rhetorician.

    • Appears during the decline of the Roman Republic – before rise of the Empire with its Caesar/monarch.

      • Republic – wealthy aristocrats are elected. Mobility in law or military

    • A famous orator – would give elaborate, compelling speeches, and write about the theory of giving such speeches

    • Synthesized the Greek and Roman schools of rhetoric, and contributed specifics to the classical canon.

      • Used manuals in Greek; still a more upper class pursuit.

  • His works included De Inventione (On Invention) and De Oratore (On Oratory).

    • Inventione reads like a manual for lawyers, while Oratore is an extensive work on the artistry of rhetoric.

    • Places Rhetoric above Law and Philosophy

  • Wants to balance ‘truth’ and ‘speech’

    • A skeptic [we can’t know ‘ultimate truth’] in philosophy, but not in ethics and politics – we need to act! - Cicero acknowledged the influence of Isocrates on his work.

  • Seneca the Younger – Contrasts with Ciceronian style: favors ‘plain speech’ of the people!


The Roman school: Quintilian’s Five Canons

1. Invention (inventio): the devising of matter, true or plausible, that would make the case convincing.

2. Arrangement (dispositio):the ordering and placing of matter.

3. Style (elocutio):the adaptation of suitable words and sentences to the matter invented.

4. Memory (memoria): the firm retention in the mind of the matter, words, and arrangement.

5. Delivery (pronuntiatio): the graceful regulation of voice, countenance, and gesture.


Quintilian & Beyond (ca. A.D. 30-98)

  • Marcus Fabius Quintilianus was born in Spain (Calahorra) but was taken to Rome around A.D. 50.

  • His principal work was the Institutio Oratoria, a blend of practical and theoretical precepts for educating citizen-orators.

    • Sets up the first ‘public school’ of rhetoric

    • Sets up ‘steps’ in learning rhetoric’

    • Creates ‘textbook’ – hence importance for later generations

  • Quintilian argued that the goal of a rhetorical education was “a good man speaking well.”

  • For Quintilian, a “good man” possessed a long list of attributes and behaviors, most of them oriented to civic duty.

    • “Good speech” is an essential component to being full human

  • Pragmatic Approach – judge things by how well they work, and how well they serve people, arguments, and causes.

  • Medieval Rhetoric – Are your reasons based on ‘truth’ (received, transcendental - Plato) or ‘analysis’ (words as conventions, Aristotle)


What is communication?

  • Is communication intentional?

    • Are we dealing with ‘people’ or senders who want to send ‘something’ via communication?

    • Does it require a sender and receiver?

  • Is communication symbolic?

    • Must it involve signs, symbols, or some abstraction?

    • Is communication concerned with meanings?

  • Is our study of communication limited to humans?

    • Can we include animals… or plants?

  • Is communication limited to speech?

    • What different ‘channels’ are we going to look at?

    • When is ‘not doing something’ also ‘sending a message’?


Models and Definitions

  • Models and theories begin with definitions.

    • Definitions help establish the structure of the model.

      • Show structure and function.

  • Models and Theories?

    • Models are necessarily reductionist

      • Only some things selected

    • Models are abstractions (the map is not the territory).

      • We have to use ‘concepts’ [remember laws of identity, excluded middle, contradiction?]

    • Models are descriptive tools.

      • Illustrate, demonstrate, explain, and/or show relationships among entities or concepts.

      • Illustrate dynamics among components of a theory.

    • Models may lead to predictions


Models and Perspectives

  • Psychological [Transmission]: communication as the transmission of messages

    Metaphor: Radios

  • Social construction: communication as collective world-building

    Metaphor: Software

  • Pragmatic: communication as patterned interactions

    Metaphor: Chess game

  • Cultural and Critical Studies: communication as a revealer of social and cultural forces

  • Ethnography of Communication: looking at speech communities as observed


Psychological [Transmission] View


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