Permanence and Change: An Anatomy of Purpose

By Kenneth Burke | Go to book overview

III
OCCUPATIONAL PSYCHOSIS

The Nature of Interest

IT Is not hard to imagine that if a grasshopper could speak he would be much more readily interested in what you had to tell him about "Birds That Eat Grasshoppers" than in a more scholarly and better presented talk on "Mating Habits of The Australian Auk." The factor of interest plays a large part in the business of communication. Even if one speaks very clearly and simply on a subject of great moment to himself, for instance, one is hardly communicating in the desired sense if his auditor does not care in the least what he is saying. A philosopher, if he has a toothache, is more likely to be interested in dentistry than in mathematical symbolism. Communication cannot be satisfactory unless the matter discussed bears in some notable respect upon the interests of the auditor. Without the assistance of this factor, the entire paraphernalia of appeal—comprehensiveness, conciseness, cogency, construction, pliancy, and all the rest ad lib.—are wasted. The dullest sentences, exchanged between young lovers or between employee and employer, may be vibrant, or the results of many years' effort

-54-

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Permanence and Change: An Anatomy of Purpose
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Permanence and Change - An Anatomy of Purpose *
  • Contents 7
  • Part I- On Interpretation 11
  • I- Orientation 11
  • II- Motives 30
  • III- Occupational Psychosis 54
  • IV- Style 71
  • V- Magic, Religion, and Science 82
  • Part II- Perspective by Incongruity 95
  • I- The Range of Piety 95
  • II- New Meanings 106
  • III- Perspective as Metaphor 118
  • IV- Argument by Analogy 128
  • V- Secular Conversions 164
  • VI- Meaning and Regression 193
  • Conclusion 207
  • Part III- The Basis of Simplification 214
  • I- Causality and Communication 214
  • II- Permanence and Change 227
  • III- Secular Mysticism in Bentham 237
  • IV- The Ethical Confusion 247
  • V- The Search for Motives 275
  • VI- Occupation and Preoccupation 303
  • VII- The Poetry of Action 316
  • Conclusions 336
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