TOWARD A SYSTEMIC THEORY OF SYMBOLIC ACTION

By

PATRICK MICHAEL McKERCHER

 

A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF

THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

October, 1993

c Patrick Michael McKercher, 1993



Table of Contents

Abstract

 Chapter 1: Overview

  1.1: Introduction 1

  1.2: General Systems Theory 10

  1.3: Evolution of System Theory in the Early Burkean Corpus 13

  1.4: Systems Theory in the Later Corpus 18

  1.5: The Systemic Basis for Burke's Theory of Symbolic Action 21

  1.6: The Metaphorical Basis of Symbolic Action 23

  1.7: A Unified Field Theory for Rhetoric 26

 

Chapter 2: General Systems Theory

  2.1: Introduction 28

  2.2: Bertalanffy Biographical Background 30

  2.3: Origins of General Systems Theory 31

  2.4: Contra Mechanism 38

  2.5: Symbolism 41

  2.6: General Systems Theory Principles 43

 

Chapter 3: The Early Burkean Corpus

  3.1: Biographical Background 52

  3.2: Counter-Statement 53

  3.3: Burke in the Thirties 58

  3.4: Permanence and Change 59

  3.5: Attitudes Toward History 64

  3.6: Philosophy of Literary Form 71

Chapter 4: The Later Corpus

  4.1: Biographical Background 79

  4.2: A Grammar of Motives 82

  4.3: A Rhetoric of Motives 88

  4.4: The Rhetoric of Religion 97

  4.5: Language As Symbolic Action 102

Chapter 5: The Systemic Basis of Burke's Theory of Symbolic Action

  5.1: Burke-Bertalanffy Affinities 114

  5.2: Burke's Systemic Theory of Symbolic Action 126

  5.3: Mental Systems 131

  5.4: Culture as System 133

  5.5 Language As System 133

  5.6 Limitations of Burkean Theory 135

Chapter Six: The Metaphorical Basis of Symbolic Action

  6.1: Contra Mechanism 143

  6.2: Connectionism 144

  6.3: Analogical Thought and Categorization 149

  6.4: Schema Theory 152

  6.5: Implications for Rhetoric 156

  6.6: Directions for Future Research 163

Appendices (Notes, History of Metaphor). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166

Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169