Democracy and the Arts: The Role of Participation

By Terri Lynn Cornwell | Go to book overview

2
Democratic Theory: General Considerations

Before a discussion of cultural matters, I must first set the scene by touching upon some basic definitions in political theory.

Chapter 1 introduced philosopher Kenneth Burke, who recognized the value of the arts; his theory of human action and language provides a background to explain why definitions of words, particularly political words, are so complicated. Basically, Burke outlined a theory describing the interaction of language and human action and man's continual attempt to more clearly define action through language. In Rhetoric of Religion, he provided this definition of man: (1) the symbol-using animal; (2) the inventor of the negative; (3) separated from his natural condition by instruments of his own making; and (4) goaded by the spirit of hierarchy. 1 (Because an appropriate, easily used symbol meaning both genders is not in common usage, terms of male gender in this book shall also apply to the female.)

According to Burke, the symbols man invents as he attempts to create a sense of order to the universe, in turn, define man's motives. The words used outline underlying motives for action; looking at language as motive provides a clearer perspective for analysis. Furthermore, as man moves along the hierarchy, he attempts to understand and to resolve conflicts by finding terms large enough to encompass both sides of the conflict. Burke called this "identification" -- a more complicated form of motive ("motive in a perfected form"). 2 In so doing, man is able to transcend the conflict and "pull himself up the hierarchical ladder." 3

Burke's concept of symbols, the resolution of conflict, and "identification" help explain why political terms are difficult to define. Words like "democracy" and "democratic theory" attempt to encompass various conflicts to create clearer understanding in the realm of

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Democracy and the Arts: The Role of Participation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Democracy and the Arts: An American Perspective 1
  • Notes 9
  • 2 - Democratic Theory: General Considerations 11
  • Notes 28
  • 3 - Participation in the Arts: A Historical Perspective 31
  • Notes 45
  • 4 - Participatory Democracy and the Arts 49
  • Notes 76
  • 5 - Democracy and the Arts in Ancient Greece 83
  • Notes 89
  • 6 - Nineteenth-Century American Democracy and the Arts 93
  • Notes 103
  • 7 - Twentieth-Century American Democracy 107
  • Notes 119
  • 8 - Participation in the Arts: Mid-Twentieth Century America 123
  • Notes 158
  • 9 - The Role of Participation: Implications and Recommendations 165
  • Notes 185
  • Appendices 189
  • Bibliography 199
  • Index 209
  • About the Author *
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