M C Morgan (mcmorg@VAX1.BEMIDJI.MSUS.EDU)
Wed, 7 Aug 1996 11:24:55 -0500

At 10:48 AM +0000 on 8/7/96, Steve Finley wrote regarding Re: Re[4]: THE

>From M.C. Morgan:
>" I would argue, instead, that in claiming that one religion is truer than
>another, the rhetor is implicitly claiming a god's-eye view from outside
>of the debate."
>I'm not sure I agree with this. If the rhetor claims as much and
>offers no persuasive evidence, then she's not much of a rhetor.
>Point is, it's a god's-eye view only if you plan not to do anything
>to try to prove your point.

A helpful distinction, Steve. My take is that *by making the claim*, one
implies that "I know the Truth." And that sets the speaker's task: she is
not going to enter a debate or dialogue with others (or even with herself?)
but will simply present The Evidence in a monologue.

And that might be why, as you write,

>the clear
>majority (I could probably say "overwhelming majority") of these
>kinds of papers are rhetorical disasters. So this kind of looks like
>I'm arguing a point that might be theoretically valid but in practice
>just never works out.

Agreed: they *are* rhetorical (and epistemic) disasters--and tedious to
read. I think they are so because they are monologues: they tend to cast
the reader as anything but a thinking human being; they tend to treat
knowledge as immutable; they go sermonic beyond belief (so to speak). And

>At the very least, though, this kind of
>student might begin to see the differences between reasoned argument
>and blind faith, the structures on which her belief rests, and so on,
>and she might even figure out that the teacher isn't really trying to
>destroy her faith but rather to clarify how it operates, whether
>completely apart from reason or only partially so.
with this I might take issue. Or, rather, the paper written would give
little evidence of this change in thinking. Maybe a change could occur.
When confronted with her own words, her own arguments, in the company of
those of others, she might see her own position in a new light--not to
change her mind but to place her thought in a new context. Or not. Gets
kinds hard to tell.


M C Morgan,
Ass't Prof English
Director of Writing Resource Center
Bemidji State University
Bemidji MN 56601