This project is by and large a project of elucidation: it may add something to studies of Kenneth Burke, but I doubt it adds much to Kenneth Burke's studies. This thesis begins and ends with analyses of Burke's famous motto Ad Bellum Purificandum (or Toward the Purification of War). The Introduction focuses on "war" while the Conclusion focuses on "purification." In short, purified war is a dialectical activity which actively and perpetually pits divergent perspectives against each other. Such an activity keeps the conflictual nature of divergent perspectives in verbal and symbolic arenas rather than physical ones. Burke owes this formulation to Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of "war" as an attitude toward life. Even as a project of elucidation, this formulation of Ad Bellum Purificandum still suggests related areas of study too extensive for one essay. The chapters of this thesis each comprise a foray into these areas. First, it is clear that Burke intends Ad Bellum Purificandum to be a means toward approaching more universal vocabularies, or what Burke calls a "consciousness of linguistic action generally" (Burke, Grammar 317). This poses a significant difficulty especially in regards to Burke's critical basis in Nietzsche. The problem is this: if all language, symbols, and thought are irreducibly and subjectively metaphoric (as both Nietzsche and Burke clearly agree on) then a universal frame of epistemological reference is impossible. Resolving this paradox is key in the purification of war. This involves resituating Burke's "representative anecdote" which he connects to the purification of war. Next, a study of dialectic itself is necessary since Burke's use of war is essentially dialectical. Because dialectic is the proving of equal contraries, and because dialectic implies learning new perspectives, such a project would view dialectic vis-à-vis democracy vis-à-vis education. Finally this project explains whereby a study of war's purification turns toward Kantian concerns having begun from Nietzschean questions. These projects (and others) serve toward an understanding (and therefore more effective purification) of Burke's use of "war."
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Sproat, Ethan McKay, "Dialectic, Perspective, and Drama" (2008). Theses and Dissertations. 1525.
Kenneth Burke, Friedrich Nietzsche, dialectic, irony, perspective by incongruity, war, Ad Bellum Purificandum, epistemology, symbol, metaphor, democracy, education, critical thinking, pedagogy, Representative Anecdote, Motivational Calculus, Four Master Tropes