The speech is full of images and words denoting grand principles, especially "freedom," and the manner in which these are intermingled with the logical arguments and exhortations for support -- and pledges of support -- that have direct literal meanings blur the line between discursive and presentational symbols. Each of Obama's words has specific meaning out of the context of this speech, and each word largely retains this meaning within the speech, but the context of the speech as a whole shifts the meanings of these words and of the entire speech, transforming the symbols into something that appears to have ore substance presentationaly than is substantiated through a discursive examination of the same speech.
An excellent early example of the way Obama melds discursive and presentational symbols is in his first direct reference to the division that Berlin experienced for decades: "And on the twenty-fourth of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin" (Obama). The concrete details provided in the first part of the quite give way to the symbolic flame-extinguishing effort, effectively making the concrete aspects of the statement part of the abstract symbolism. In other words, making the discursive presentational.
The essential problem with this is not that it demonstrates a cogent and meaningful use of symbolism by a politician, but rather that this speech is ostensibly wholly discursive, outlining practical plans for the ways in which the United States can better align itself with the international community. Langer...
Ultimately, the melding of discursive and presentational symbols systems in this speech did not lead to enhanced meanings as it does in poetry and other artforms, but rather led to a lack of any real substantial or discrete and practically impactful meaning, which is what was needed.
Obama certainly isn't the first politician to deliver a speech that was little more than empty rhetoric. By performing such rhetorical analyses, however, and by becoming generally aware of the rhetorical devices and manipulations that necessarily exist around us, it is possible that we might begin to demand -- and receive -- better from our government officials and hopefuls. A new rhetoric of true substance might tehn emerge in the political dialogue.
Brand, Peg. "Susanne Katherina Knauth Langer." Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. London, 1998.
Langer, S. (1951) Philosophy in a New Key. "Discursive Forms and Presentational Forms"
Liukkonen, Petri. "Susanne K. Langer." Accessed 29 April 2010. http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/slanger.htm
New World Encyclopedia. "Susanne Langer." Accessed 29 April 2010. http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Susanne_Langer#Symbols_and_myth
Obama, Barak. "Berlin Speech." Accessed 29 April 2010. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/07/24/obama.words/
Certainly, rhetoric lends itself to the discovery of truth, as truth (Aristotle suggests) always makes more intuitive and intellectual sense compared to falsehood, and so equally talented rhetoricians will be more convincing sharing the truth than sharing falsehood. However, critics have pointed out that there is so "tension between Aristotle's epistemological optimism and his attempt to come to terms with rhetoric as a culturally and contextually specific social institution....
A favorite target for conspiracists today as well as in the past, a group of European intellectuals created the Order of the Illuminati in May 1776, in Bavaria, Germany, under the leadership of Adam Weishaupt (Atkins, 2002). In this regard, Stewart (2002) reports that, "The 'great' conspiracy organized in the last half of the eighteenth century through the efforts of a number of secret societies that were striving for
With the production of Dolly, we also entered a vast technological frontier of possibilities. The cloned sheep "was born after nuclear transfer from a mammary gland cell, the first mammal to develop from a cell derived from adult tissue." Taking a cell containing 98 per cent of the DNA, or its genetic blueprint, from the udder of a six-year-old adult sheep, they fused it to the egg of another
Economics in Ancient Civilization It is said that "Rome was not built in a day." Indeed, the Roman Empire was the last of a series of civilizations to emerge in the Mediterranean by the First Millennium, B.C. Precursors to the culture most identified as the seat of Western political economy, the Ancient Egyptians, Etruscans, Greeks, Syrians, Carthaginians and Phoenicians all had contact with the Romans, and eventually were incorporated through territorial
" (Abrogate means to "Abolish by authoritative action"). Here is a fear appeal by Reagan; in other words, if the conservative Christian movement doesn't stand up to the liberals who want progressive policies on abortion, those liberals will destroy democracy. After criticizing the people who stand for things that the Christian conservative movement opposes, and clearly staking out his position as a "good" president who opposes "evil" things in society, Reagan
45). With the ideology of the ownership class necessarily becoming the dominant ideology throughout the world not simply through the spread of industry and capitalism but through dramatic changes in international trade and economies brought about by capitalist/industrialist changes in single countries, the bourgeoisie acquires (or acquired) dramatic power to shape global events and politics through their shaping of the thoughts that can be had and the modes by