Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant

The Mathematical Method is the New Rhetorical Model

sábado 19 de septiembre de 2020, 03:00h
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On Twitter there are hundreds of comedian memes, and seeing them constantly habituates the masses to the apodeictic, that is, to what is recognized in the distance (“apodeictic”, from Greek “apodeiktikos”, from “apo”, far, and “deik”, to show). On YouTube there are hundreds of bricolage instructors, and seeing them constantly accustom the masses not to conceiving (from Latin “complexus”, a scientific notion today), but to assembling (factory notion) concepts.
More observations. On LinkedIn there are hundreds of business magicians who transform bagatelles into kingdoms, and seeing them constantly habituates the masses to the induction (from Latin “inducere”, from “in”, into, and “ducere”, to lead). On Facebook there are hundreds of homogenizing statistics, and seeing them constantly accustom the masses to attend only quantities (from Latin “quantus”, substance, extension). In sum, the apodeictic, assembling concepts, induction and statistical homogenizing, constitutes, according to Kant, the mathematical method.

A Kantian paragraph illustrates what we say: “The form of mathematical cognition is the cause of its pertaining solely to quanta. For only the concepts of magnitudes can be constructed, i.e., exhibited a priori in intuition, while qualities cannot be exhibited in anything but empirical intuition” (1). Such a method, which is the habit of the mind of masses, a mental habit without content, of course, should be the rhetorical model of modern political discourse. But, nevertheless, it is not.
To prove it, we will make four inferences from a text in The Atlantic (2). Writing political speeches is not, poet-like, “belabor every syllable”, but merely weaving archetypical, apodeictic phrases, as the proverbs, e.g. Political harangues are not “a near-perfect blend of prose, research, anecdote, and commitment to the greater purpose for our country”, but mere geometric juxtaposition, e.g, of prejudices. The scrivener of political harangues is not “a novelist”, but merely an inductive biographer of mediocre people. The wit is not the qualitative source of political discourses, but the statistical “bureaucracy involved in writing more high-profile speeches”, that is, simple factiousness. Proverbs, prejudices, mediocrity and factiousnees are persuasive to the villain and to the petit-maitre, but not to the virtuous. We think about anthropological types, not about social classes.

The villain or picaro burlesquely only attends trifles, and lives, according to the necessity, rhapsodically, and speaks lingo, and is anti-teleological. The petit-maitre snobbishly only attends symbolizations, and lives, according to the necessity, methodically, and speaks rhetorical style, and has an ascending teleology. The virtuous philosophically attends ideas, and lives autonomously and methodically, and speaks poeticizing, and has a horizontal teleology. We forget, now, the virtuous. Political discourses for the masses, namely, for picaros and petit-maitres, thus, being imitation of them, imitation of their actions(3), or in a classic word, drama (4), will be comedy (5), a font of laughs.
The literate reader remembers the Aristotelian rhetoric, which is unnecessary to explain here. The writer of comic political harangues should not capture benevolence (“captatio benevolentiae”), but morbidity, nor establish abstract topics (“partitio”), but magic formulas, nor narrate stories, fables or examples (“narratio”), but talk about provincial affairs, nor argue with enthymemes (“demonstratio”), but with super general emotions, nor moralize (“peroratio”), but shout egomaniacal slogans.

We infer that the elements of the method for writing political speeches for the villain are: 1) a grotesque feature (the apodeictic), 2) a mechanical bricolage of accidents (assembling concepts), 3) a story of personal growth (induction) and 4) a blind sum of fatuous things (statistical homogenizing). The elements of the method for the petit-maitre are: 1) an iconic and vain commodity (the apodeictic), 2) a monadological and sugary analogy (assembling concepts), 3) the binomial “poor place-bourgeois place” (induction) and 4) a blind sum of instruments (statistical homogenizing). The imaginative reader will illustrate the method.-


(1) Kant, Critique of pure reason, Cambridge University Press, 1998. See “Transcendental Doctrine of Method”, B742-3.
(2) Emma Roller and National Journal, What It's Really Like To Be a Political Speechwriter, The Atlantic, July 30, 2015.
(3) Aristóteles, Poética, Editorial Gredos, 2011. Cf. 1448a25.
(4) Cf. 1448a25.
(5) Cf. 1449a30.

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