Week 4 — Constitutive Rhetorics + Publics
Kelly Przytulski

Speaking to this complicated question of freedom vs. predetermination, I think it’s important to bring Cooper back into the discussion. Remembering the idea that agency, our freedom to choose is emergent — it exists in the processes that happen in between context (surround) and structural change.

This illusion of freedom that Charland talks about is not to say that freedom doesn’t exist at all, it’s merely that freedom is constrained by the narratives we inhabit. If, as Burke suggests, rhetoric is not about persuasion but identification, we still have the freedom to identify with or reject certain narratives. The illusion of freedom means that we have to act consistently with the narrative in order to embody it as a subject, since it is a “structure of understanding” (141). However, if we disagree with how a narrative positions us as a subject, we can still act in spite of constraints by rejecting or potentially working with others to rewrite the narrative. A narrative is only predetermined with a fixed ending insofar as it is socially agreed upon to be true; it is not inflexible and within a narrative there is still a degree of agency.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.