Cognitive Rhetoric Subject to Ideological Appropriation

James Berlin criques Linda Flowers and John Hayes for their application of cognitive rhetoric to the composition process.

“the rhetoric of cognitive psychology refuses the ideological question, resting secure instead in its scientific examination of the compositing process” (Berlin 482), but “The business of cognitive psychology is to enable us to learn to think in a way that will realize goals, not deliberate about their value” (482).

Berlin raises a major concern, I think – if we teach students to “achieve” without also teaching them to judge, then are we simply reinforcing the hierarchies of privilege which silence those who are already silenced?  As Berlin adds, “Power in this system is relegated to universtiy-certified experts, those individuals who have the cognitive skills and the training for problem solving” (483).  Thus, only those middle-class students who have the appropriate preparation (i.e. upbringing) to perform cognitive rationality are able to participate and succeed in the already privileged space of the college classroom.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>