Corder, Jim W. "Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love"

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In “Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love,” Jim W. Corder claims that we are all constantly creating and adapting our own narratives and arguments as we live our lives. However, sometimes we will come across the narrative/argument of another that conflicts with or undermines ours. What to do in such a situation? Corder first references the therapeutic techniques of Carl Rogers, which were adapted to a rhetorical philosophy based on mutual understanding of the positions of each rhetor. But Corder thinks this isn’t sufficient to resolve some conflicts, as with heated political issues like abortion or war. In these situations he proposes we “see each other,” “know each other,” “be present to each other,” and “embrace each other” (421). As he writes, argument is not a display or presentation; it is an emergence towards the other: rhetoric should allow for a more commodious space in which conflicting views can coexist. Corder offers a variety of ways to facilitate this, such as learning to argue provisionally, or to remain “perpetually open and always closing” (425).


(feel free to add your own opinions here!)

Continuing with the idea of looking at and teaching arguments in the dramatic contexts in which they typically occur, I tend to agree with Corder. I know at some point in class discussion, someone mentioned that it is not helpful to put the human-condition lens on arguments when trying to study them, but I disagree. I think we need to always take human condition into account when studying anything -- especially argumentation; otherwise, what we do in the classroom is merely theory. If we can’t go out and put into practice what we are learning, then what is the point? And I believe that learning to deal with the human condition of elevated emotions -- fear, denial, anger, passion, etc -- is one of the most important things we, as rhetoricians and rhetors, can do. If we closes ourselves off to analyzing theories in a vacuum, we just might be setting ourselves up to fail in practice. (And, we are going directly against Corder’s idea of constantly opening ourselves up to the world around us.)

In section 9, Corder continually says that the arguer “must go alone.” However, I’m not sure there is a way for that to happen practically. Yes, in learning, one could sit and simply absorb the viewpoints and narratives of others in the class or the teacher, but then the arguer would not be alone. The second someone else (even the teacher) spoke his or her viewpoint, the arguer would no longer be alone. There is no way, I don’t think, to learn something while totally alone. In that manner you have only your own viewpoints to consider, and you are unlikely to gain new knowledge looking over things you already know, without an outside point of view. I believe that much of what Corder has to say has great value, however I do not understand how the arguer “going alone” is helpful. While it makes sense that to be silent is to be open to other perspectives, and to speak is to choose, one cannot remain silent their whole life in order to stay open. I believe a balance needs to be found in order to make Corder’s ideas work; one needs to know when to listen, and when to speak up, all while holding respect for the other’s narrative.--Amber B. 10:10, 3 April 2012 (PDT)

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