Language as Transmission of Information

J. Comas ComasJ at
Fri Jan 5 12:40:53 EST 2001

On 1/5/01 at 5:45 AM, Dan Smith <dls216 at> wrote:

> For the record, I think it's a problematic distinction.

On 1/5/01 at 11:36 AM, Edappel8 at wrote:

> As for Dan's finding Burke's distinction a "problematic" one, I tend to 
> agree.  We can make a distinction between the epistemic "function" of 
> language and the ontological "nature" of the animal that has the innate 
> capacity to learn and use language.  I personally am not comfortable, though, 
> with anything close to a rigid differentiation between "dramatism" and 
> "logology" as approaches to our understanding of use of language and the 
> being possessed of that capacity.  I've said it before on this list: 
> "logology" is dramatism worked out "to the end of the line," to borrow a 
> phrase.  It is implicit in dramatism.  It completes the trajectory of 
> implications embodied in Burke's ealier emphasis on a "poetic" (1935) "actor" 
> (1945) performing a "self-interfering act" (1950) for an "ethically" 
> constrained (1935, 1945) purpose.  (See especially 1945, pp. 294-97).

Perhaps it is not the distinction between the two concepts that is problematic
as much as the relationship between the two, specifically the relation of
priority which would ground a philosophy (viz., first philosophy). Do we find
Burke giving priority to logology, which would put him in the
Descartes-Kant-Husserl tradition of grounding philosophy in epistemology; or do
we find Burke giving priority to dramatism, which would align him with the
ontological/metaphysical tenor of twentieth-century Continental philosophy? Or
do we find this relation of priority to be undecided in Burke's thought? And
might such indecision (whether it characterizes Burke's thought or not) be a
quality that could be called "postmodern"?


J. Comas, Assistant Professor
Department of English
University of Missouri-Columbia

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