poly: exhortation

From: Steve Witham <sw@tiac.net>
Date: Mon Feb 23 1998 - 17:52:46 PST

d.brin writes-

>Steve, My new book talks about 'the failure of exhortation'... the idea
>that sages have preached to us for millennia the behave, and be nice, and
>cohere. It doesn't work very well, does it?

Don't want you to ruin the suspense, but do you talk about what does work?

I can think of a couple situations where exhortation works:
Where people have just about made up their minds to do what you want
and they need one more authority or just a jolt.
Where people have all the evidence already and you put it together
clearly and compellingly.
Where people already believe what you're saying but you give them a
model for why, or "intellectual ammunition" (here it doesn't "work" as
exhortation but does serve a purpose).

But most of all, no.

Sometimes you can use the form of an exhortation to start an argument.
Then it only works if you get the engagement you were looking for,
and give the kind of engagement necessary to keep it happening.

Am I right?


<sw@tiac.net>Steve Witham
Don't dream it, su to it.
Received on Tue Feb 24 14:31:15 1998

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Mar 07 2006 - 14:45:30 PST