I’ve been meaning to learn about rhetoric for, well, years. It’s one of those things a communication specialist should know, right?
Yesterday, in Heathrow, I found Sam Leith’s ‘You Talkin’ To Me?’ which is proving very educational and entertaining (The Disney Duo).
In the introduction, Sam quotes William Empson’s book on literary criticism Seven Types of Ambiguity (another Book I Haven’t Read) and how ‘in an sufficiently extended sense any prose statement could be called ambiguous’.
And that got me thinking, as I do, about conversations.
We take the complex world, cherry-pick tiny aspects of it, draw conclusions from those tiny aspects (using our weird, biased brains), feel pretty certain about our conclusions, then represent our conclusions using ambiguous words as symbols of those very unreliable conclusions.
Consider that when other people say things that seem to be stupid or wrong.
Constant certainty vs constant ambiguity.
Ah, the human condition.
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