query re: KB's preference for threesomes

Isabel Pedersen ipederse at watarts.uwaterloo.ca
Thu Mar 31 16:40:47 EST 2005

I agree that for Burke it is a "threesome".

Is the word "transcend"? Burke writes early in Part II of The Rhetoric:

The notion of rhetoric as a means of "proving opposites" again brings us
to the relation between rhetoric and dialectic. Perhaps as a first rough
approximate, we might think of the matter thus: Bring several rhetoricians
together, let their speeches contribute to the maturing of one another by
the give and take of question and answer, and you have the dialectic of a
Platonic dialogue. But ideally the dialogue seeks to attain a higher order
of truth, as the speakers, in competing with one another cooperate towards
an end transcending their individual positions. Here is the paradigm of
the dialectical process for "reconciling opposites" in a "higher
synthesis." (53)

Of course, he repeats the sentiment over and over again (and the word
"transcend") in the terms for "Order" section in reference to the
positive, dialectical and ultimate orders of language. Ulimate terms, of
the third order, serve as the "re-orderer" of the dialectic, the second


Isabel Pedersen Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Business & Technical Communication
Ryerson University
350 Victoria St. Room BUS 711
Toronto, ON
Canada, M5B 2K3
(416) 979-5000 ex. 6387

On Wed, 30 Mar 2005, Wess, Robert wrote:

> Hi Rick,
> In a 1967 retrospective comment, KB speaks of "consummation" as a later
> addition to the other two (CS 223-24).  I can't remember offhand when he
> first starts linking the three but I suspect it was sometime during the
> 1950s when he started using "entelechy" to talk about "imitiation" (the
> dramatistic view of imitation article).  There may also be something in
> "Poetics and Communication" from the 1960s but I don't have a copy with
> me to check.
> Maybe some more memory bells will ring later.
> Bob
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-kb at purdue.edu [mailto:owner-kb at purdue.edu]On Behalf Of Rick
> Coe
> Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2005 10:48 AM
> To: kb at purdue.edu
> Subject: query re: KB's preference for threesomes
> More than once, KB spoke/wrote of his discomfort with 2 (or pairs) and
> his desire when faced with a pair of terms to seek a third term.  One
> example he gave was Counter-Statement, which he started as a book about
> expression but found transforming into a book about communication.  His
> discomfort, he said, led him to seek a third term, consummation (if my
> memory serves--tho I believe he may on one occasion have said
> communion).
> At any event, I have misplaced the quotes/references to KB's assertion
> of his discomfort with 2 and preference for 3.
> Can anyone help?
> Thank you,
> Rick
> Credibile est, quia ineptum est.
> Tertullian, De carne Christi 5.4.
> Prof. Rick Coe
> English Department
> Simon Fraser University
> Burnaby, BC  V5A 1S6

More information about the KB mailing list