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Rhetorical Reference? The Reflections on the Power of Poetic Reference in the Work of Paul Ricoeur

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Abstract:

Paul Ricoeur’s philosophy of language organizes symbolic action along the poles of rhetoric, poetics, and hermeneutics. Symbolic action, for Ricoeur, has a referential force beyond that of literal denotation. In The Rule of Metaphor, he articulates a “metaphorical reference” that arises from the ashes of an impossible literal reference. In Time and Narrative he expands his notion of metaphorical reference, identifying the “interweaving reference” of narrative that makes temporality comprehensible in language. These two poetic references are the work of the productive imagination and are recognized through the hermeneutic reconstruction of the semantics of the sentence and the discourse of the text. Poetics and hermeneutics are the source of creative innovation in language through metaphorical and interweaving reference.
The rhetorical dimension, however, never receives rigorous treatment by Ricoeur: it is either the “reduced” rhetoric of tropology or the Aristotelian combination of doxa, enthymeme, and persuasion. The only “rhetorical reference” we might find is the doxastic stock of pre-existing opinion. Utopia, “living” metaphor, and emplotment are fundamentally poetic forces, while rhetoric is saddled with ideology, the “dead” metaphors of doxa, and logical arrangement.
This paper attempts to expand Ricoeur’s conception of the productive imagination such that it can be seen as operative in rhetorical action. Doxa is not a static construct, but rather an imaginative re-construction by the speaker (or other agent of symbolic action, including the rhetorical critic). Rhetoric operates by means of a dialectic of doxa and innovation, wherein the interpretation of doxa by the rhetorical agent is itself an act of the productive imagination. This interpretive act transforms the symbolism of action in what Ricoeur calls the practical field. The result is a kind of “rhetorical reference” that is parallel to Ricoeur’s notions of “metaphorical reference” and the “interweaving reference.” Rhetorical reference can help critics think about the materiality and specificity of rhetoric, especially insofar as it constantly re-works the collective meaning through its capacity to literally re-create doxa. This reference will help us understand the ways in which common sense is constituted and contested as rhetorical discourse.
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Name: NCA 94th Annual Convention
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Wade, Walter. "Rhetorical Reference? The Reflections on the Power of Poetic Reference in the Work of Paul Ricoeur" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the NCA 94th Annual Convention, TBA, San Diego, CA, <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p258545_index.html>

APA Citation:

Wade, W. P. "Rhetorical Reference? The Reflections on the Power of Poetic Reference in the Work of Paul Ricoeur" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the NCA 94th Annual Convention, TBA, San Diego, CA <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p258545_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: Paul Ricoeur’s philosophy of language organizes symbolic action along the poles of rhetoric, poetics, and hermeneutics. Symbolic action, for Ricoeur, has a referential force beyond that of literal denotation. In The Rule of Metaphor, he articulates a “metaphorical reference” that arises from the ashes of an impossible literal reference. In Time and Narrative he expands his notion of metaphorical reference, identifying the “interweaving reference” of narrative that makes temporality comprehensible in language. These two poetic references are the work of the productive imagination and are recognized through the hermeneutic reconstruction of the semantics of the sentence and the discourse of the text. Poetics and hermeneutics are the source of creative innovation in language through metaphorical and interweaving reference.
The rhetorical dimension, however, never receives rigorous treatment by Ricoeur: it is either the “reduced” rhetoric of tropology or the Aristotelian combination of doxa, enthymeme, and persuasion. The only “rhetorical reference” we might find is the doxastic stock of pre-existing opinion. Utopia, “living” metaphor, and emplotment are fundamentally poetic forces, while rhetoric is saddled with ideology, the “dead” metaphors of doxa, and logical arrangement.
This paper attempts to expand Ricoeur’s conception of the productive imagination such that it can be seen as operative in rhetorical action. Doxa is not a static construct, but rather an imaginative re-construction by the speaker (or other agent of symbolic action, including the rhetorical critic). Rhetoric operates by means of a dialectic of doxa and innovation, wherein the interpretation of doxa by the rhetorical agent is itself an act of the productive imagination. This interpretive act transforms the symbolism of action in what Ricoeur calls the practical field. The result is a kind of “rhetorical reference” that is parallel to Ricoeur’s notions of “metaphorical reference” and the “interweaving reference.” Rhetorical reference can help critics think about the materiality and specificity of rhetoric, especially insofar as it constantly re-works the collective meaning through its capacity to literally re-create doxa. This reference will help us understand the ways in which common sense is constituted and contested as rhetorical discourse.


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