Social Status and Grammar

One thing that I thought was really interesting in yesterday’s class discussion was how much social status affected grammar of today. I thought it was really interesting how, in the days before the printing press, reading and books were specifically for the rich. Before the printing press was invented, books were written by hand and were obviously pricier.

Once the printing press was invented, however, books became much more available to people. Around that time, literacy education became much easier to access by people of the lower class so reading overall became much more accessible. This, unfortunately, did not bode well for people in power.

To combat this new struggle for power, the upper class decided to update the rules, and thus came the creation of grammar.

The main thing that intrigued me in this was the fact that the creation of grammar was due to a struggle for power. There was no legitimate need for grammar, but the people in power decided that to keep their status, they needed to create a whole new realm of thinking in the English language.

Rhetoric factors into play here because of the fact that the rich needed to convince the poor that they were better than them by making up new rules of language, and that just blows my mind. These people were so insecure in their power that they needed to make new rules up to keep their power.

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Is Google making us stupid?

While some people may believe Google makes us stupid, I believe Google can make us whatever we use it for. Some people can form false opinions, or uneducated beliefs because they do not do research with credible resources. An example of this is the Anti-Vaccination movement. Many parents who are against vaccinations can do a simple Google search in their favor (vaccinations cause autism facts) and immediately come up with a multitude of resources that prove their theory right. Unfortunately, that is a very pointed search where facts can be skewed in their favor. However, if they would do any more than that research, they would realize that basically everything they are reading was false.

 

Google can be advantageous if the user chooses to use the information correctly and do proper research instead of basing their opinion on one or two incorrect articles. However, you can also find credible, reliable sources on Google. There are many peer reviewed articles on Google scholar and there are many .org / .gov websites that provide accurate, fact-based information. Additionally, even if the user chooses to use a simple .com (that is not Wikipedia, and there are proper citations and credible sources where the author got that information, it can definitely be used as an educational tool.

Ancient Art and Rhetoric

Two days ago in class we discussed the ways that the ancient art we saw at the Uffizi Gallery used rhetoric to convey the message it was looking to get across. For example, an artist would use red or blue to convey royalty, or they used light to highlight a certain feature in a person. There was also an incredible amount of symbolism in many of these paintings, something that I have never really realized before.

Typical art (paintings, etc.) has never really been something I have been too interested in until we saw some of the paintings in the Uffizi Gallery. The painting that had the biggest impact on me was definitely Caravaggio’s “Sacrifice of Isaac” . The way Caravaggio used light to not only highlight the desperation in the angel’s grasp of Abraham, or the absolute terror on Isaac’s face was amazing to me. There was also so much expression in all of the subject’s faces. This was very different than the statue we saw in the Duomo museum. Abraham was simply holding the knife near Isaac and they both looked relatively calm. The artist was probably trying to just give a general idea of what happened – not necessarily a highlighting of emotions as Caravaggio did.

Relationships: Truth&Argument, Ethics&Persuasion

In class, Dr. MMC brought up the questions of whether there are relationships between truth and argument, and persuasion and ethics. I believe that there should be some degree of truth to an argument (considering you can’t really present an argument without facts). However, if you look at some arguments, the truth is all in the way it is presented. Someone’s actions can be taken completely out of context and used against him or her in a way that may not be completely true. Additionally, not everybody may see the same truths all the time. People believe what they want to believe and will argue vehemently against their opposition, even if they are not necessarily right. This, to a certain degree, can be considered manipulation – presenting an argument in a way that benefits you- however, if the presenter is giving the subject all of the information they need to make an informed decision, there is really not an argument to be made.

Additionally, the relationship between persuasion and ethics can go both ways. You don’t need to necessarily be ethical to persuade someone of something (for example, Al Capone was persuasive but he did this through coercion, which is not ethical.) As stated above, there can be a certain degree of manipulation involved if you don’t present all the facts or you create a lie of omission. If you are looking at ethical persuasion, however, if you state your viewpoint, listen to the opposition’s viewpoint, and then come to a mutual agreement then that would be an ethical form of persuasion.