7The Magical Roots of Rhetoric

As we saw towards the end of the last chapter, there can often seem to be some very powerful similarities between magical practice and some understandings of the rhetorical situation. A number of modern scholars of rhetoric have noted this resemblance. Kenneth Burke (1969), for example, argues that early anthropology had failed to recognize the relationship between rhetoric and magic. The scientism implicit in the discipline had insisted on interpreting magic as primitive, misguided (and therefore ‘bad’) science. In reducing the interpretive field down to a simple dichotomy of ‘good science’ and ‘bad science’, Burke maintained that anthropology before Malinowski had denied rhetoric any “systematic location” (p. ...

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