Course Journals


The Course Journal Entries were highly beneficial in making a student think deeper in societal norms, rhetoric, and citizen leadership.  The Journal Entry  on Terministic Screens was highly beneficial in looking at rhetoric, perception of ourselves and others, and the framework to our language.  Taking a step back and looking and how we perceive our own society by our choice of words has helped me look deeper into wording in articles, everyday conversation, and especially the news.  The Journal entry speaking on Hitler’s rise to power due to rhetoric was necessary as a piece of this class.  First of all, it is always very valuable to study past mistakes in history, especially in learning how these mistakes are made.  This analysis and critique helps create a greater questioning of our leaders and what we want our future to look like. The Journal Entry pertaining to Civil Disobedience was a great one to write about.  With my previous studying of modern political philosophy, this was not a new topic to me.  Though this was something I was already knowledgeable about, it was very beneficial for me to look at this in a more rhetorical sense.  The most beneficial aspect of the Course Journals were the conversations in class that came out of these.  Hearing other viewpoints, ideas, and new outlooks is highly beneficial to this aspect of the course.

Terministic Screens

Reading this article by Colleen M. Keough really opened my eyes to see how influential of a role language plays on our social norms in America.   Keough basically describes terministic screens as language that affects our perception of ourselves and others in society.  Keough uses research and work done by others to support her point on the large influence language plays in sexism in America (page 8).   A simple word can construct a totally different reality and perception on one’s self and others.  Keough highlights the role of language and terministic screens in constructing reality, “The implication of terministic screens is that once a linguistic terminology is accepted as reflecting reality, the term influences the selection and deflection of future observations” (pg.6 lines 1-3).  Once a term is set, it can stay in a society for a very long time.  Not to say that this terministic screen and language cannot be changed over time, it can result in a high impact for many years.

Colleen M. Keough describes the relationship between ‘sexist language’ and ‘termministic screen’ is the through highlighting the ideas of the negative effects of using terms like “masculine” and “feminine.”  Keough argues that instead of emphasis on “Masculine” and “Feminine” and moving to turn to it into human traits.  She uses the example of men not feeling able to express their feelings in fear of being “feminine.”  Keough argues that a person must have both masculine and feminine to be a complete person.  This language further polarizes men and women.

Keough uses the example of this sexist language in the professional field.  Keough argues that there needs to be a transition from titles like fireman to firefighter and mailman to mail carrier (page 12).  This language puts men above women.  It is treating women like the minor and men like the major. Another example of this are the terms “Waiter” and “Waitress” used in the professional field (page 9).  This idea of men being the major and women being the minor or secondary.  She also uses how important the construct of marriage and the titles that come with it has played on sexism.  The idea of men keeping the “Mr.” for their whole lives while women traditionally have had the change from “Ms.” to “Mrs.” after marriage (page 12).   Marriage is a very old institution that has been a cause and worsened this sexist language.  Keough main argument is that society needs to work away from man and woman, and transcend to an idea that we are all just humans.

Rhetoric of Hitler’s Battle

Burke’s rationale behind analyzing Hitler’s book Mein Kampf is to dispel any kind of belief that this book only inflicted “symbolic wounds” (191).  Burke wants to rationalize the ill effect Hitler’s use of rhetoric had on the mobilization of hatred on society.  Burke also has an element of the importance of the reader’s ability to recognize these tactics used by Hitler, in case someone was willing to bring back these tactics

Burke argues that Hitler’s rhetoric is the driving factor in his rise to power and mobilization of German citizens.  Burke highlights the importance of a skilled orator in taking power in society.  This orator must be able to produce crisis, when crisis is not there.  They must be keen in deception (194). They must also materialize these issues and opposition in order to mobilize and motivate the population.  An orator like Hitler placed this Aryan population above and beyond in social status by deception and calculated yet poetic speeches using rhetoric to persuade citizens (217).  Hitler always uses repetition strongly to further strengthen his use of rhetoric.  Burke argues that this use Hitler’s use of rhetoric was the reason for his success.  Burke acknowledges that what was stood for was inherently terrible but he got their by using skilled rhetoric skills.

Burke identifies the first step of unification to be materializing the international devil.  As touched on earlier in the essay.  Mobilizing people through hatred can be highly effective.  But, by also incorporating religion comes an even faster mobilization of hatred (page 194).  Burke highlights the sexual symbolism and undertones throughout Hitler’s book and writings.  That this “villainous Jew” will seduce them.  While as a dominant male, Hitler will lead them to greatness.  Another huge argument used is the idea the intermarriage of Aryans and Jews should be looked at like the spread of a disease, further putting a damper on the dominant Aryan race.  (202)

The next part is the projection device, this is basically arguing that you need to efficiently hand off blame to this “scapegoat” that has been chosen (202).  This is a major factor when mobilizing a population.  Burke highlights how it is important to the middle class to properly use the projection device.  The middle class has more power to make change (203).

From there, there must be a symbolic rebirth.  There needs to be an idea of a brighter future.  There needs to be a real motivation and a call to action when mobilizing a population.  Hitler was especially good at this.  This kind of “Utopian” outlook on motivation can result in extremism.  (203)

For the fourth, Hitler argues the importance of commercial use. This idea of being able to sell this idea.  Hitler then gave a “noneconomic interpretation of economic ills”(204).  This is a way he used smoke and mirrors and efficiently used the rest of this formula.  Hitler is persistent and keeps to this formula in the book.

Burke calls for government to prohibit Nazis dressed in uniform to prohibit Hitler’s idea of increased importance an authority (218).  Burke argues about Hitler’s use of this “world view” outlook.  Lying and eluding those who did not know any better.  Materializing problems and true rationale (218).  Burke’s biggest call to action revolves around religion and the importance of Hitler’s use of it in his rise to power.  Burke says here, “And it is corruptors of religion who are a major menace to the world today, in giving the profound patterns of religious thought a crude and sinister distortion (219).”  Burke argues something like this could happen in a western democracy. His call to action is that we need to be able when these hate tactics are being used, identifying what is real and what is fake.  That in no religion you will find this value of taking over someone else’s culture and religion, especially in a violent way.

Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”

            Thoreau’s essay has the perfect name for the arguments he is making.  It is this idea of going against government, questioning governmental practices, and acting on your own moral code rather than being a cog in the machine.  I believe he is also speaking on the word civil as referring to ordinary citizens.  Thoreau is saying that it takes the actions by many ordinary citizens against government to make change.

Thoreau believes that government is not necessary in society.  Not only is it not necessary, but it is the primary source of corruption and oppression.  He basically believes that government is just a vehicle for one man to gain power of another one, leading to corruption.  Thoreau doesn’t believe that it contributes to society or better the genuine safety of any individual within it.

When Thoreau is saying, “We should be men first, and subjects afterward,” he is saying that all of the government’s power has been given to by the people.  He is arguing that people need to realize that without their support the government doesn’t have any power.  This is very similar to the social contract.  Thoreau is also speaking on equality.  This difference between being treated as men rather than subjects is a detrimental difference.  Being treated as equal men or as someone necessary to serve the government.  The government should be serving the people.

Thoreau definitely looks down on military officials as a whole.  Thoreau even compares them to mere horses and dogs and says, “they are likely to serve the devl.”  He believes that these traditionally admired and valued citizens should be treated like the opposite.  He highlights the fact that even in warfare murder is murder.  This is a conversation very much worth having and has been brought up by philosophers for a very long time.  This fight for an unjust cause.

Thoreau practiced civil disobedience and does not pay the poll tax.  In part one he has an elaborate analysis on what is wrong with the voting system and voting as a construct.  In jail he analyzes the idea of imprisonment as a whole.  Thoreau says he plays the highway tax because he believes he benefits.  This is a perfect example of using that morality and individualistic attitude of civil disobedience.