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TCloskes , Knew ledgt % chapter4 Caroridye OP. i The rhetoric of this economics In the opening scene ofthe movie The Gaduate a Mr. McGuire puts tn avuncular arm around the Dustin Hoffman character and sy, just want to say one word Yo you Just one word.” Yes, sr? “Are you listening?” Yes, am. Plastics” [Pause] Exactly how do you mean i ‘There's » grea! future in plastics. Think about if. Will you think about it" Yer, will, "Enough sid: that's a deal.” So nowadays the avuncular word 10 the wise is “rhetoric” There's 1 great future in chetorie.Forthermoze, une plastics shetoric has ‘luo had a great pat, the tveenty centuries curing which i was the {educator ofthe young and the theory of speech in the West ~ asthe Classicst Wemer Jaeger ella st "the fst humanism” the “shetor- fal paideia” The thees and s half centuries of modernity since Bacon tnd Descartes have been inthis respect an inedude. "We are stil bemused,” notes Richard Lanham she historian of ehetoric, “by the [IO years of Great Newtonion Simplification which made ‘thet’ 4iny word, but we are beginning to outgrow i” (forthcoming, ch. 2, .27, ek Lanham 1992), British empiric and French rationalism Fave had long and glorious ren. The vival of shetoric has been ‘explicit since the 19608 Sn the study of literature and speech. But a Sense of how to do things with words has spread now to other {inquiries to philosophers ruminating on speech acts or linguists on the pragmaties of conversation. "Rhetoric inthe late twentith cantury has had tobe reinvented in| Jgnorance of it past, Yet the mathematician tho reflec on the Standard of prot in topology or the economist who notes that the Federal Reserve Board is speaker with intent or the politica scientist who wonders amidst his regression equations if politics 38 ‘he hetriof his economics 39 should afterall be reduced to public opinion polls (Barry 1965; J. Nelson 1983) ae practicing thetorie, When they reflect on thelr reflections they are practicing, 0 say fost three words to you again ~ te you listening? =the "zhetorieoF guy.” ‘When Kenneth Azrow was asked by George Feiwel what criteria the uses to judge competing theories in economics he answered enasiventss, Dots It conespond to our understanding of the ronomic mora? I thik i foih t9 aay that we rly on bard Sapual eidence completly A very iemprtant part fs js SUipereption the economic orld Ifyou ing sew concep the ‘Guetton ip, does it amine your perception? De you fel you Shderstand what is going on in everyday ite? Of couse, whether Fisempircal and other tests is aso esportan Surpsisngly the passage is quoted by Mark Blaug as demonstating that Anow is a Lakatosian(Blaug 2991, p. 505). Its prose meaning ‘though, ie that Arrow, like ws alls hetorcian. He seeks persue Son. through introspection, though a senae ofthe socal world, and ‘hrough lly identified best linear unbiased econometric ests, too. The very Word “thetore” though, makes it hard for moderns ‘| understand what they ate taking about Like “anarchism” taken f2 ‘be bomb-thiowing or “pragmatiem” taken to be unprincipled horse trading, shetoric ea noble word fallen om bad tones [Rhetoric has since the beginning been defined in two ways, a6 have sti, one narow and the oPher broad, The narrow definition is Pte’, made populat in the nineteenth eentory by the Romantic tlevatio of sincerity to the chief vztue,“Rhetorie” in the Patonic fefnition is cormelic, Riding a disease under paint rather than providing a cure. Joumnaliss use the cosmetic definition in their ews stories and philosophers use it in their seminars. When the newapapers want to speak of obscuring blather and thity-second Spots on fag burning they write "Senate Campaign Mired in Rhetone” The philosophy seminar uses the word “rhetoric” 19 charnclerize the meretrcious omament obscuring the daar and Gistinet idea. Thus even W. V. Quine, ln en untstored enty for “Rhetoric” in his personal dictionary of philosophy, calls it "the rallying point for advertisers, tal lawyers, politicians, and debating teame" (Quine 1987, p- 283), wiehout noticing that even in such & sneering and Platonic definition itis the rallying. point also for Tn Plato's language “chetoic” is associated especially with demo: cate snatitutions, uch a8 assemblies or lw courts, disdained by 40 Navrtion sen of taste. “You attempt to refete me” says Socrates in the Gorgias, "im a shetorical fasion, as they understand refuting in the Iior courts, But this sort of refutation is quite usles for getting ihe truth” Or in the Pharéres, “he who is to be a competent ‘hetorclan need have nothing at allt do, they say, with tuth fa Considering things which are Just or goed, of men Who are 20, Sthether by nature or by education. For in the cours, they say. Tobody cares for truth about these matters, but for what is convine- She” (Gorgas. 7le and Phasdrus 272d), Compare Gorgins 473-474 “Petas, Tm not one of your statesmen... The many dismiss” (cf ‘ie: H0de on sheloce ae mere Hatery); and Phacérss, 260, 275, Brie, deFard, 26le-d, 2624, among other places where Plato ‘xprestes his contempt fr lav cours and democratic assemblies 25 Silinat hove who know. The attack on thetorie has more than a Ie anti-democratic coloring If ehetoricis defined thus as ornament its easly Ii tothe “god damned English professors” or advertising lacks. The setting aside began with Peter Ramus inthe sivteath century, who disestously enfimed the Plate separation of mere omament fom deep Philosophy. As Lanham notes, “If you separate the discipine of Ziscourse into essence and oznameni, into philosophy and thetorc, Sind make each a separate dacipline, ¢ makes them easier to think bout Thus begins modern inguiry’s long history of Tooking for its Tow keys not where it lost them but under the lamppost, where they tre easler to ind” (eh. 7, pp. 6-7). Another professor of English has “rammed against sneering atthe “mere” chetorc: we must "ward off Hetensation that words are nothing but words when they are ‘ually among out most substantial coleciv rabies" (Petry 199, p30) Our politic, for example, i set of speech acts and speeches Tout speech acs, and is easly corrupted By bed chetorc. "We are nly men,” wrote Montaigne, "and we only Rold one tothe other by furseord (19) ‘The other, broad definition of shetoric is Aristotle's, in The here, L'il, 1 Uo quote the Kennedy tansaton), “an ability, in sch [patcula case), to see the available means of persuasion.” Of Soares the Greeks, ever talkers ane Sigler distinguished sherply betureen persuasion (pita) and violence (be), an opposition Snely (iscusted by Kirby (990), Their Kteratue is filed eth speeches of persuasion weighing against the vilentalterative. King Pam of ‘Troy, prostrate before Achiles, pleads eloquent forthe body of his ow biking in his fal words the instremens of persuasion and of ‘olece: "t pat my lips To the hands of fhe man who has killed my | Therkeocoftiseonnics 41 oieen”omes ind 200V ine 50) The Athesiana athe beight Stsucess in the Peloponnesian War sner a" gest ats of words that nobody would teliee” mere chetorc. They tl the Mears, thelr cto, ha ab amtter oes in foreign plcy~ compere {hetero flnry Kong ante 900 movement tei” {ninternational reatons~ he standard offstlce depends on the fquaity of power to compel” (Thucydides, V, 89). The Athenians froceed © Lathe mon and sel he women and den | River an abundonmen of sree persuasion the ve rete, «MAW that moves without violence hen is persuasion, pet, the = pam ofvhelose unforced sprement mtvaly advantageous el | ExuUtacnenge it would therfore inca loge nd acts mc ‘metaphor and tory. “Logic” a logician have been making sea Garr in dhe center peti not unaspued resi, Logics be Sistem scholulefrstordc pect, ont, mods ree Sine malfaled, informal, inensona,counertatal, epistmic sconsstent evan enalment, funy, and so en a8 30 forth Trough the vests ways that people ca formalize what (hey ae “saying, Th linguist and login Janes D. McCarey ays that only * SHloubh rogues er gnotncedoogians pao single fl “Spe of ogc ss onchaenenbl (ceavery 190, p58) Like Alte eer fs otto be determined meey By ong stones 9° © Sock tables That a fact int sive only a anceps <1 Roseman longer controversial ever was. Kant knew it 50 52 should we. Ste of ence over he pat few decades have shown = Fepetelly that ate veconaeted y words. CThce snowing shart inthe Tog and fc of aces 5 ret As No Goh sd,“ wrong tik thatthe ak of | is ito in oot ow ature i hye concer hat we "Bato naure<- We are suopended in lngyoge. The word Flys also a word, a word which we must lem use earecly” oor 1966 [985 p doe; but otal people sre ited at every pak “J gtargument: Boh, gited at metaphor, could nt flow the plo of “fos Raved movie neste, an wosls bring someone sons © “* Syphisper explanations in his ear), And Heisenberg: “Natural science enor singly describe and expsin ate, iis pat of the IBierlay between nature and oureiven deceiver nature 2 “Tiponed tour method of questioning” C1, ote in Berger 95, [Pifo Tats fosay, appa fo experimen ning see mach L- Pagof broad-hurch debniton of theron ae ate appeas "0 the ‘Gos cucactr of the spesher. ils lope sot spletion is 32 SESih metric ais She anaphora of Whitman's posty Witgesteln 2 Navaton says, “Ueering a word is like stiking # note on the Keyboard ofthe Invagination” (1945 (1958), pln #his definition a science a8 much teliteraturehasa“thetore” "When economists look at something, say childcare, they think of markets “Chideare” ~ which to other people looks lke a piece of Goel contol, oF «set of buildings, ora problem in social work Tooke to economist like a stock cette traded on the New York ‘Sohange. BY this choice of metaphor they are driven fo identify a ‘Semand curve, a supply cuve, and price Ifthe economists are of, the mainstrenm,neoclasicl Kind they will see “rational” behavior insuch a market if they are Marist or intitationalst or Austrian conomsts they will see somewhat differently. But im any case the ecing wil seem To them #0 make ordinary Sense, to be the way ‘things really eal ae. vA ehetoican, however, oes that the “marke” is “Just” a igure of| spnech Veta serious thelorician, or sexious philosopher of scence hil not edd the “just” because metaphor is a serious figure of Segment Noting the metaphors i nat merely another way of saying that economics is approximate and unperfecied. Economists believe that metaphor comes fom the fu22y, humanistic side ofthe modern {st world. A model in economies comes be called metaphor, in {his way of thinking f “the statement ean be tested only approx imately” (hus David Gordon 1991). But the inverse square law of [Bavittional attraction is lao a metaphor so is Einstein's general Exton It is wel known thatthe Romantics assigned metaphor tothe fealm of at distingushing an smaginative from a scientific faculty, fr though diferent organs of the brain, The Iterary crite Francis RcGoath has argued that the distinction cannot be sustained (McGrath 1985) Boyle's Law shares metaphor with Shakespeare's Sand sonnet metaphor, MeGeath argues, as fundamental to science Models are metaphors, thats all So in other feds: "the mechenis- ho the ongenstlc the maskeiplace the dramaturgisl, and the ‘hle-otlowing metaphors have all payed a sigaifcant oe in psycho: logical esearch of the pest decades” (Gergen 1986, p. 146) "The ‘Burke is a commonplace, «locus communis opot a place where ‘Sconomists work The thetaician’s metaphor here is locational. In fhe thetorical way of talking since the Greeks the metaphor of a Ntonverstion” ts tops forthe language game across the playing. fields of economics (Klamer and Leonard 1983 explore metaphors in fconomics more thoroughly, wich reference to the nowrlarge philo- Sophiea literature; and see MeCloskey 1985). The rhetricof his economies — ‘The conversational figure of speech suggests the Similarity Argu- ment thatthe economic conversation shares many features with ther conversations differently placed. Any scientific conversation Ines mach in common with, say, poetic conversation, as Is demon- sloable in dela beyond rational patience. The linguist Solomon ‘Marcus lated fully fifty-two alleged diflerences betveen scientific and poetic communication (atonal vs. emotional; explicable vs. ineffable; and 20 forth), and after much thought rejected them all as cruities (Mareus 1973). He noted that there as much variation ‘rithin scientific an poetic communication as beween thes. ‘The attempts to distinguich the artisie and scientile uses of metaphor presume thatthe categories of Eeropean thought around Ee) cut the universe a is joins. The English professor Richard Lanham argues a length that "nothing but confusion has ever come fom the effort to fx #he poetey-prose boundary” (Lanham 1974, p 65). Attempis to distinguish art and science do not seem to work, though ftom the best workers. Thomas Kuhn, for example, noting truly that "we have only Begun to discover the benef of seeing feience and ast as one’ (1977, p. 33), nonetheless attempts tistincion, He argues that benuty in science (a diferenial equation ‘with stardingy simple solutions ay) is an input into the solution of {technical problem, whereas in art the lution of 2 technical problem (contapposto in representing a standing figure, say) is an [Input into the bessty. But at diferent levels of the art and science Gilferent work wil be done. An economic scientist wil work ike an Srtist ats technieal problem to achieve beauty; but then the beauty at ‘other level will work to solve echnical problem. Qne might stand ‘etter amazed, asa physicist famously did of mathematics, about the unseasonable effectiveness of aesthetic standards in science. The physicist Tullio Regge remasiad to Primo Levi, the chemist and {ter, “liked the sentence in ehich you say thatthe periodic able Js posty, and besides it even rhymes” (Levi and Regge 1992, p. 9) Levi sponded, "The expression is paradoncal, but the rhymes are scually there... To discem or create symmetey, ‘put something in Sts proper place’ ie a mental adventure common to the poet and the | selenist” (pp $10), ‘The one distinction between art and science of which Kuh half persuades me is that ar continues to converse with dead artist Physicists, notoriously, do not work inthe past of their discipline [And yet: biologists are sll conversing with Darin, economists trth Adam Smith. Even this most persuasive demarcation seems Furey and uate, One can atk of the cloverest of demarcation

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