“I’m not hurting anybody else. As long as I’m not hurting someone else it shouldn’t matter what I do.” Ever heard something like that? Ever said something like that?
It would be nice if we lived life in a vacuum. It would be nice if how we lived didn’t affect or influence others. It sure would be nice to do whatever we wanted without any concern as to how it might impact someone else’s life.
Unfortunately, we influence those around us in ways we cannot even fathom! Here’s how.
Kenneth Burke was an American literary theorist and philosopher. The political and social power of symbols was central to Burke’s scholarship throughout his career. He felt that through understanding “what is involved when we say what people are doing and why they are doing it”, we could gain insight into the cognitive basis for our perception of the world. For Burke, the way in which we decide to narrate gives importance to specific qualities over others. He believed that this could tell us a great deal about how we see the world.
One of the central tenets of his philosophical framework was that symbols held great power. One of Burke’s definitions of rhetoric was “the use of language as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation in beings that by nature respond to symbols (emphasis mine)” (Burke, 1969, p. 43). For Burke, the essential function of symbols is to be the means by which we understand our world, and therefore understand what constitutes our reality. Burke would say, “[h]owever important to us is the tiny sliver of reality each of us has experienced firsthand, the whole overall picture is but a construct of symbol systems” (Burke, 1966, p. 5).Continue Reading …