Re: The Flea

Bob King (kingbx@HAMLET.UNCG.EDU)
Tue, 15 Oct 1996 13:04:36 -0400

On Tue, 15 Oct 1996, Paul Hagood wrote:

> a "flavor" I like.
> This experience of reading equally difficult writing and having two very
> different responses to it made me think, however. Perhaps there's another
> aspect to language we don't seem to talk about much, that bears some
> attention. Is there a subtle level of communication that we don't talk
> about much? Beyond the mental, emotional, and artistic levels?
> Perhaps contemporary rhetoric has neglected the study of ethos.
> I'm not talking about the outer actions of the speaker, the "ethical"
> authority of someone, which sounds moralistic, but the inner ethos. A
> person's intent and motivation on a subtle level. The way you instantly
> have an intuitive response to someones body language and voice and facial
> expressions. Someone's "flavor."
> How does it affect the communication process? How much does our inner
> feeling play a part in our communication? How much of it is communicated?
> If we want to be effective thinkers and writers, is it more than a matter
> of technique and theory and knowledge? Is there a rhetoric of the soul?
> Should we study what makes us effective communicators on this level?
> Should we bring up questions of motive and attitude and selflessness as
> areas of inquiry? Of Teaching?

Paul, I like the direction your reflections are taking. Interesting to me
that current neuro-philosophy is pretty involved in the notion of "qualia"
-- what you are calling "flavor" (at least it seems to me the two concepts
are pretty much the same). A subtle difference is, however, that the
neurophilospher-scientists I've heard about (who are studying
consciousness) tie the notion of qualia directly into the human capacity
to feel -- hence not "beyond" emotion in that sense. My source for this
was a pbs program called _Human Quest_ which I thought was good.

Another kind of interesting thing to note, for some people anyway, are
Marshall McLuhan's reflections on how technologies make some things
obsolete, including ways of thinking. I don't think it's out of the
question that we're coming around to thinking about ethos in the context
of working in a medium which makes knowing each other's ideas, positions,
and thoughts very obviosly visible. In other words, rationality may be
becoming industrialized, meaning we can turn the focus of our intellectual
labors elsewhere -- the concepts of ethos, selflessness, etc. such as you
have brought up.