Hagaman, John. “On Campbell’s Philosophy of Rhetoric and Its Relevance to Contemporary Invention.” RSQ: Rhetoric Society Quarterly 11 3 (1981): 145-54. Print.

  • In this piece Hagaman rereads Campbell’s Philosophy of Rhetoric in order to reconsider his “theory of mind” and the role it plays in current inventional theory.
  • Despite the fact that Campbell faithfully supported an empirical epistemology, he also accepted that intuition could yield knowledge if rooted in three principles: 1) mathematical problems; 2) consciousness (the recognition of thinking, feeling, hearing, etc.); and 3) common-sense beliefs such as “Whatever has a beginning has a cause” (146).  The acceptance of intuition as legit by Campbell is in conflict with his faithful practice of common sense philosophy (which held that substantial reality existed apart from man and could be perceived immediately and directly by sensations registered in the mind).
  • Interested in the proliferation of new knowledge, Campbell rejected syllogistic reasoning because it didn’t contribute anything new to the inventive process.  He does believe in the minds ability to associate like ideas and facts, to draw inferences, and to decompose existing trains of associations and form new ones.  It is here that Hagaman draws parallels to composition theory in the early 1980s by noting how theorists at the time were considering the composing process as a chain of meaning-defining processes not end-products (cognitive composition).

Campbell converges with late 20th century rhetoric (in Hagaman’s view) when he “describes the relationships drawn among facts and ideas as tentative and on-going, and when the mind is described as ‘balancing’ between opposing views” (150).  In other words, Campbell is valuable because he describes the creation of meaning as a tentative and conscious process – a convergence that resonates with cognitive composition theory at the time.

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