Visions of Nuclear Weapons: Kenneth Burke's Consummation Principle and the Manhattan ProjectShow full item record
|Visions of Nuclear Weapons: Kenneth Burke's Consummation Principle and the Manhattan Project
|Isaksen, David Erland
|Doctor of Philosophy
|Kenneth Burke claimed there were three creative motives: expression, communication, and consummation. The third, consummation, is currently not much used or well understood among Burke scholars, but it was one that Burke himself was very concerned with. He claimed that consummation was a significant factor motivating atomic physicists in the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bomb. This dissertation explains what Burke¿s consummation principle means and how it can be used in rhetorical criticism, using the Manhattan Project as an example of consummation. Consummation is a specific manifestation of the entelechial drive that requires a rigorous vocabulary and is maintained by the aesthetic principle of self-consistency. The motive is engendered when a vocabulary has developed enough ¿rules¿ of expectation to make those who use it able to grasp implicit directives about what should come next. Burke wrote that indexing was a method for discovering the consummatory drive in a vocabulary. The method consists of finding key terms and tracking the equations of those terms (which leads to clusters of terms around key terms). One then finds the hierarchies of terms by finding out how the terms in the clusters relate to each other in terms of abstraction (specific vs. general, cause vs. effect, etc.). In most well-developed texts, this ladder of abstraction leads up to an organizing principles or what Burke called a god-term. In indexing a group discourse, Burke stated that one should start with a text that is defining and widely circulated among the group, index it, and then search for fragmented versions of the same hierarchies and clusters in the larger group. I identified three defining texts by Otto Frisch, Rudolf Peierls, Robert Serber, and Niels Bohr, and indexed them. The god-terms were ¿Super-bomb,¿ ¿maximize damage and efficiency,¿ and ¿science,¿ and all the texts defined science as a means to power. I found this equation and these god-terms repeated in texts written by Robert Oppenheimer, Robert R. Wilson, and many other junior scientists at Los Alamos. There was also pervasive evidence of a drive to complete the atomic bomb that matches Burke¿s descriptions of the consummatory drive.
|George, Ann L.
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- Doctoral Dissertations