Kenneth Burke wrote evocatively about the intellectual life as a kind of unending conversation. A liberal paraphrase goes something like this:
We begin our intellectual journey in a manner similar to entering a gathering place (for Burke, it was a parlor) where a conversation is already in full swing. You and I listen for a while until we catch the tenor of the argument, and then, to use Burke’s colloquialism, we put in our oar, to the gratification, we hope, of those already there. On and on the conversation rages until the hour grows late. Finally, we must depart, with the conversation still in full swing.
I have always found the heuristic of the unending conversation useful for encouraging both myself and my students to enter into intellectual debates about rhetoric, civic life, human values, and ethics, among other things. My hope is that the information and materials on this website provide a means for engaging in this on going conversation in a manner that will be both helpful and interesting. Thanks for taking a look. Please email me if you have questions/concerns/ideas about what you find here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Think on these things”: This is the first part of the Northwestern University motto. The full motto (a paraphrase of a passage from the Bible) is “Think on these things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report.”