[KB] FW: Where did Burke say this?

Stan Lindsay slindsa at yahoo.com
Thu Mar 5 12:01:53 EST 2009

I searched my expanded concordance and couldn't find any use of the terms "delineate," "materiality," or "symbolization."  That doesn't mean he never used them, but it adds to the developing conclusion.
 Stan A. Lindsay, Ph.D.
Department of Communication
Florida State University
slindsa at yahoo.com

From: David Blakesley <blakesle at purdue.edu>
To: Kenneth Burke Discussion List <kb at purdue.edu>
Sent: Thursday, March 5, 2009 6:15:01 AM
Subject: Re: [KB] FW: Where did Burke say this?

The closest I could find to the passage Clarke mentioned is in "What Are the Signs of What" in Language as Symbolic Action where Burke talks about how an infant "receives through its senses the impressions of nonverbal things" (see p. 362). It's an idea that he repeats in the Chapin documentary also. Burke mentions there that infant means "speechless." Burke's discussion actually does sound a lot like this Schopenhauer idea (nice find Drew!)


On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 10:54 PM, Drew Kopp <kopp at email.arizona.edu> wrote:

"If anyone standing before a beautiful landscape could for a moment be deprived of all understanding, then for him nothing of the whole view would be left but the sensation of a very manifold affection of his retina, resembling the many blobs of different colors on an artist's palette. These are, so to speak, the raw material from which just a moment previously his understanding created that intuitive perception. In the first weeks of life the infant feels with all its senses; it does not intuitively perceive, does not apprehend; it therefore stares stupidly at the world" (Schopenhauer _On Vision and Colors_ Payne translation 12).
The use of the word "infant" reminded me of this passage from Schopenhauer's early text (1818). In any case, the "Burkean" passage is very Kantian, that is, transcendental, which invokes a priori conditions (rooted in faculties such as the "understanding," or "reason," AKA symbolization) for the possibility of experience (and of any cognition of that experience). Schopenhauer certainly tried to extend this line of thinking in his own way, and I imagine Burke was familiar with his work (though he only makes a passing reference to Schopenhauer in P&C, and a not so generous one at that), and so in some ways had to contend with the seductive powers of transcendental reasoning.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: Jim Moore 
To: kb at purdue.edu 
Sent: Wednesday, March 04, 2009 8:08 PM
Subject: [KB] FW: Where did Burke say this?

kb folks:

Is the quotation Clarke is trying to locate actually Burke?  It's hard to
know out of context but, as is, it sounds more categorical than I would
expect when I read "the sole means by which humans come to know
that materiality."  I think Burke had enough of a sense of humor to 
use an example like a baseball bat to the head to refute that bit of
piffle.  The final sentence sounds very Burkean but maybe isn't Burke.
I'm curious anyway.


Date: Wed, 4 Mar 2009 16:05:04 -0600
From: rountrj at uah.edu
To: kb at purdue.edu
Subject: [KB] Where did Burke say this?

Fellow Burkelers--

I got a request from a fellow scholar trying to locate the following quotation in Burke (if it's his):

> "believe that symbolization is the sole means by which humans come to know 
> that materiality. . . . . Prior to symbolization, the material world looks 
> much like the hazy outlines an infant might see. It is symbolization . . 
> . which enables humans to discern, delineate, order, and value reality." 
Is sounds like P&C to me, but I'm away from my office and unable to check. Anyone know?

Clarke Rountree
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