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Encyclopedia > Richard M. Weaver

Richard Malcolm Weaver, Jr (March 3, 1910April 1, 1963) was an American scholar who taught English at the University of Chicago. He is primarily known as an intellectual historian and apologist for the American South and as an authority on modern rhetoric. A solitary figure in 20th century American academic life, briefly a socialist in his youth, a lapsed leftist intellectual conservative by the time he was in graduate school, a teacher of composition, a Platonist philosopher who wrote on the problem of universals and criticized nominalism, a literary and cultural critic, and a theorist of human nature and society. Described by Young (1995: 4) as a "radical and original thinker" remembered for his books Ideas Have Consequences (a recurring phrase in conservative intellectual and political discourse) and The Ethics of Rhetoric, his writings remain influential, particularly among conservative theorists and scholars of the American South. is the 62nd day of the year (63rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1910 (MCMX) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Friday [1] of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... is the 91st day of the year (92nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... For other uses, see 1963 (disambiguation). ... English studies is an academic discipline that includes the study of literatures written in the English language (including literatures from the U.K., U.S., Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, India, South Africa, and the Middle East, among other areas), English linguistics (including English phonetics, phonology... For other uses, see University of Chicago (disambiguation). ... The history of ideas is a field of research in history that deals with the expression, preservation, and change of human ideas over time. ... In geopolitics, the term The South is often used to refer to the poorer, less technologically advanced nations of the world as opposed to The North, which is richer and more developed. ... Socialism is a social and economic system (or the political philosophy advocating such a system) in which the economic means of production are owned and controlled collectively by the people. ... Conservatism is a term used to describe political philosophies that favor tradition and gradual change, where tradition refers to religious, cultural, or nationally defined beliefs and customs. ... The term Composition, in written language, refers to the process and study of creating written works or pieces of literature. ... For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation). ... Universal has several meanings: For the concept of a universal in metaphysics, see Universal (metaphysics). ... In philosophy, nominalism is the theory that abstract terms, general terms, or universals do not represent objective real existents, but are merely names, words, or vocal utterances (flatus vocis). ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Conservatism is a term used to describe political philosophies that favor tradition and gradual change, where tradition refers to religious, cultural, or nationally defined beliefs and customs. ... In geopolitics, the term The South is often used to refer to the poorer, less technologically advanced nations of the world as opposed to The North, which is richer and more developed. ...

Contents

Life

Weaver was the eldest of four children born to a middle-class white Southern family in Asheville, North Carolina. His father, Richard Sr., owned a livery stable. Following the death of her husband in 1915, Carolyn Embry Weaver, supported her children by working in her family's department store in her native Lexington, Kentucky. Lexington is the home of the University of Kentucky and of two private colleges. Hence Weaver grew up in a community with intellectual and cultural sophistication and educational opportunities. Not to be confused with Ashville. ... Nickname: Location in the Commonwealth of Kentucky Coordinates: , Country United States State Kentucky Counties Fayette Government  - Mayor Jim Newberry (D) Area  - City  285. ... The University of Kentucky, also referred to as UK, is a public, co-educational university located in Lexington, Kentucky. ...


Despite his family's straitened circumstances following the death of his father, Richard Jr. attended a private boarding school and the University of Kentucky. He earned an A.B in English in 1932. The teacher at Kentucky who most influenced him was Francis Galloway. After a year of graduate study at Kentucky, Weaver began a master's degree in English at Vanderbilt University. John Crowe Ransom supervised his thesis, titled The Revolt against Humanism, a critique of the humanism of Irving Babbitt and Paul Elmer More. Weaver then taught one year at Auburn University and three years at Texas A&M University. The University of Kentucky, also referred to as UK, is a public, co-educational university located in Lexington, Kentucky. ... Vanderbilt University is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university in Nashville, Tennessee. ... John Crowe Ransom (April 30, 1888, Pulaski, Tennessee- July 3, 1974, Gambier, Ohio) was an American poet, essayist, social and political theorist, man of letters, and academic. ... Humanism is a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appeal to universal human qualities — particularly rationality. ... Irving Babbitt (August 2, 1865 – July 15, 1933) was an American academic and literary critic, noted for his founding role in a movement that became known as the New Humanism, a significant influence on literary discussion and conservative thought in the period 1910 to 1930. ... Paul Elmer More (December 12, 1864 – March 9, 1937) was an American critic and essayist. ... Auburn University (AU or Auburn) is a state university located in Auburn, Alabama, USA. With more than 24,100 students and 1,200 faculty, it is the second largest university in the state,[5] and according to U.S. News & World Report, has a selectivity rating of more selective. ... Texas A&M University redirects here. ...


In 1940, Weaver began a Ph.D. in English at Louisiana State University (LSU), whose faculty included the rhetoricians and critics Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, and the conservative political philosopher Eric Voegelin. While at LSU, Weaver spent summers studying at Harvard University, the University of Virginia, and the Sorbonne. His Ph.D. was awarded in 1943 for a thesis, supervised first by Arlin Turner then by Cleanth Brooks, titled The Confederate South, 1865-1910: A Study in the Survival of a Mind and a Culture. It was published in 1968, posthumously, under the title The Southern Tradition at Bay. For other uses, see LSU. Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, generally known as Louisiana State University or LSU, is a public, coeducational university located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the main campus of the Louisiana State University System. ... Cleanth Brooks (October 16, 1906 - 1994) was an influential American literary critic and professor. ... Robert Penn Warren Robert Penn Warren (April 24, 1905 – September 15, 1989) was an American poet, novelist, and literary critic, and was one of the founders of The New Criticism. ... Eric Voegelin, born Erich Hermann Wilhelm Vögelin, (January 3, 1901 – January 19, 1985) was a political philosopher. ... Harvard redirects here. ... The University of Virginia (also called U.Va. ... Inscription over the entrance to the Sorbonne The front of the Sorbonne Building The name Sorbonne (La Sorbonne) is commonly used to refer to the historic University of Paris in Paris, France or one of its successor institutions (see below), but this is a recent usage, and Sorbonne has actually... Cleanth Brooks (October 16, 1906 - 1994) was an influential American literary critic and professor. ...


After one year's teaching at North Carolina State University, Weaver joined the English department at the University of Chicago, where he spent the rest of his career (Young 3-4), and where his exceptional teaching earned him that university's Quantrell Award in 1949. In 1957, Weaver wrote the first article in the inaugural issue of Russell Kirk's Modern Age. North Carolina State University is a public, coeducational, extensive research university located in Raleigh, North Carolina, United States. ... For other uses, see University of Chicago (disambiguation). ... Russell Kirk Russell Kirk (1918, Plymouth, Michigan – 29 April 1994, Mecosta, Michigan), was an American political theorist, historian, social critic, and man of letters, best known for his influence on 20th century American conservatism. ... Modern Age is an American conservative academic quarterly journal, founded by Russell Kirk in 1957, and published by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute . ...


Weaver spent his academic summers in a house he purchased in his ancestral Weaverville, North Carolina, very near Asheville. His widowed mother resided there year-round. Weaver traveled between Chicago and Asheville by train. He insisted that the family vegetable garden in Weaverville be plowed by mule. Every August the Weaver clan held a reunion which Richard regularly attended and not infrequently addressed. Weaverville is a town in Buncombe County, North Carolina, United States. ...


Precocious and bookish from a very age, Weaver grew up to become "one of the most well-educated intellectuals of his era" (Scotchie 4). Highly self-sufficient and independent, he has been described as "solitary and remote" (Young 1), as a "shy little bulldog of a man" (Nash 84). Lacking close friends, and having few lifelong correspondents other than his Vanderbilt teacher and fellow Agrarian Donald Davidson, Weaver was able to focus on his scholarly activities. He reflected long on the moral degradation of human nature. Donald Grady Davidson (August 8, 1893 - April 25, 1968) was a U.S. poet, essayist, social and literary critic, and author. ...


In 1962, the Young Americans for Freedom gave Weaver an award for "service to education and the philosophy of a free society" (Scotchie x). Shortly before his sudden death in Chicago, Weaver accepted an appointment at Vanderbilt University. In 1964, the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists (Nash 82) created a graduate fellowship in his memory. In 1983, the Rockford Institute established the annual Richard M. Weaver Award for Scholarly Letters. Official seal of Young Americans for Freedom. ... For other uses, see Chicago (disambiguation). ... Vanderbilt University is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university in Nashville, Tennessee. ... ...


Early influences

Weaver strongly believed in preserving and defending what he considered to be traditional Southern principles (Young 8). These principles, such as anti-consumerism and chivalry, were the basis of Weaver's teaching, writing, and speaking. It has been suggested that Affluenza be merged into this article or section. ... Bors Dilemma - he chooses to save a maiden rather than his brother Lionel Chivalry[1] is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood. ...


Having been raised with strong moral values, Weaver saw religion as the foundation for family and civilization (Young 21). His appreciation for religion is evident in speeches he gave early while an undergraduate at the Christian Endeavour Society, as well as in his later writings (Young 22). The Young Peoples Society of Christian Endeavour was a nondenominational evangelical society founded in Portland, Maine, in 1881 by Francis Edward Clark. ...


Influenced by his University of Kentucky professors, who were mostly of Midwestern origin and of social democratic inclinations, and by the crisis of the Great Depression, Weaver believed that industrial capitalism had led the USA to a general moral, economic, and intellectual failure. Believing that socialism afforded an alternative to the prevailing industrialist culture (Young 3), he joined the Kentucky chapter of the American Socialist Party. In 1932 Weaver actively campaigned for Norman Thomas, the standard-bearer of that party. A few years later, he made a financial contribution to the Loyalist cause in the Spanish civil war. For other uses, see The Great Depression (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Capitalism (disambiguation). ... Motto: (traditional) In God We Trust (official, 1956–present) Anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner Capital Washington, D.C. Largest city New York City Official language(s) None at the federal level; English de facto Government Federal Republic  - President George W. Bush (R)  - Vice President Dick Cheney (R) Independence - Declared - Recognized... Religious socialism Key Issues People and organizations Related subjects Socialism refers to a broad array of ideologies and political movements with the goal of a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the community. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Business magnate. ... Norman Thomas Norman Mattoon Thomas (November 20, 1884 - December 19, 1968) was a leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America. ... For other uses, see Loyalist (disambiguation). ... Not to be confused with the Spanish Civil War of 1820-1823. ...


While doing a master's degree in English at Vanderbilt University, Weaver discovered the Agrarians [1] movement (Young 69). Gradually he began a rejection of socialism and embrace of tradition. Over the remainder of his life, he arguably became the most eloquent and accomplished exponent that movement has ever had.[citation needed] He admired and sought to emulate its leader, the "doctor of culture" John Crowe Ransom (Young 5). Vanderbilt University is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university in Nashville, Tennessee. ... Agrarianism is a social and political philosophy. ... John Crowe Ransom (April 30, 1888, Pulaski, Tennessee- July 3, 1974, Gambier, Ohio) was an American poet, essayist, social and political theorist, man of letters, and academic. ...


The Agrarians wrote passionately about the traditional values of community and the Old South. In 1930, a number of Vanderbilt University faculty and their students, led by Ransom, wrote an Agrarian manifesto, titled I'll Take My Stand (Young 38). Weaver agreed with the group's suspicion of the post-Civil War industrialization of the South (Young 47). He found more congenial Agrarianism's focus on traditionalism and regional cultures than socialism's egalitarian "romanticizing" of the welfare state (Scotchie 12). Yet Weaver abandoned socialism for Agrarianism only gradually over a number of years. For example, the thinking of his 1934 M.A. thesis was not Agrarian (Young 58). Vanderbilt University is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university in Nashville, Tennessee. ... There are three main interpretations of the idea of a welfare state: the provision of welfare services by the state. ...


Weaver's Old South

The Southern Tradition at Bay, the title under which Weaver's 1943 doctoral dissertation was published in 1968 after his death, surveyed the post-Appomatox literature of the states that were part of the Confederacy. He revealed what he considered its continuities with the ante-bellum era. Weaver also discussed certain Southerners who dissented from this tradition, such as Walter Hines Page, George Washington Cable, and Henry W. Grady, whom he termed "Southern liberals." Motto Deo Vindice (Latin: Under God, Our Vindicator) Anthem (none official) God Save the South (unofficial) The Bonnie Blue Flag (unofficial) Dixie (unofficial)  States that seceded under CSA control  States and territories claimed by CSA without formal secession and/or control Capital Montgomery, Alabama (until May 29, 1861) Richmond, Virginia... Walter Hines Page (August 15, 1855 - December 21, 1918) was an American journalist, publisher, and diplomat. ... George Washington Cable (12 October 1844 - 31 January 1925) was a novelist notable for the realism of his portrayals of Creole life in his native Louisiana. ... Portrait of Henry Grady Henry Woodfin Grady (May 17, 1851 – December 23, 1889) was a journalist and orator who helped reintegrate the states of the former Confederacy into the Union after the American Civil War. ...


Weaver identified four traditional Southern characteristics: "a feudal theory of society, a code of chivalry, the ancient concept of the gentleman, and a noncreedal faith" (Young 78). According to him, the Southern feudal system was centered on the legitimate pride a family line derived from linking its name to a piece of land (Young 81). For Weaver, land ownership gave the individual a much needed "stability, responsibility, dignity, and sentiment" (Scotchie 25). Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste Feudalism, a term first used in the early modern period (17th century), in its most classic sense refers to a Medieval European political system comprised of a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the... Bors Dilemma - he chooses to save a maiden rather than his brother Lionel Chivalry[1] is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood. ...


Yet in his Ideas Have Consequences, he downplayed the materialistic notion of ownership. He asserted that private property was "the last metaphysical right" of the individual (Nash 100). Southern chivalry and gentlemen's behavior, on the other hand, emphasized a paternalistic personal honor, and decorum over competition and cleverness (Young 83). Weaver claimed that women preferred the romanticized soldier to the materialistic businessman (Scotchie 36). Ideas Have Consequences (1948), a book by Richard M. Weaver, had a good deal of influence stating a nostalgic, agrarian variant of political conservatism. ... It has been suggested that Office etiquette be merged into this article or section. ...


The noncreedal faith Weaver advocated grew out of what he termed the South's "older religiousness" (Young 84). This "religion" focused on a respect for tradition and nature, and for the Anglican/Episcopal church (Young 84-85), the established church in Virginia and south during the colonial era. Weaver agreed with the traditional Christian notion that external science and technology could not save man, who is born a sinner in need of redemption (Scotchie 21). Although he was a non-practicing Protestant, he showed admiration for religious tradition through his reverence for the written word as a grounding force in a morally unstable society (Young 86). This box:      Anglicanism most commonly refers to the beliefs and practices of the Anglican Communion, a world-wide affiliation of Christian Churches, most of which have historical connections with the Church of England. ... Main article: Anglicanism The Anglican Communion is a world-wide affiliation of Anglican Churches. ... Protestantism encompasses the forms of Christian faith and practice that originated with the doctrines of the Reformation. ...


Weaver claimed that the South was the "last non-materialist civilization in the Western World" (Scotchie 17). Weaver came to advocate a revival of Southern traditions as the only cure for a commodity-based capitalism. He believed it was a way to combat the social degradation he witnessed while living in Chicago.


Ironically, Weaver's ancestral region, Asheville, North Carolina, was not typical of the American South whose virtues he came to revere and extol. It is instead part of the Appalachian upland, settled mainly by persons of Scots-Irish ancestry and evangelical Presbyterian affiliation. Slavery was almost unknown there, because the soil and climate were not suited to cotton or any other plantation agriculture. Instead, the main economic activity was subsistence farming on small freeholds, with many families living in serious poverty. North Carolina's decision to secede from the Union in 1861 was far from unanimous, and many Appalachian men refused to fight for the Confederacy during the Civil War. The westernmost Congressional district of North Carolina, which includes Asheville, has mostly voted Republican since the Civil War. Not to be confused with Ashville. ... The Appalachian Mountains are a system of North American mountains running from Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada to Alabama in the United States, although the northernmost mainland portion ends at the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec. ... Scots-Irish (also called Ulster Scots) is a Scottish ethnic group that historically resided in Ireland which ultimately traces its roots back to settlers from Scotland, and to a lesser extent, England. ... Freehold is a term used in real estate or real property law, land held in fee simple, as opposed to leasehold, which is land which is leased. ... Motto Deo Vindice (Latin: Under God, Our Vindicator) Anthem (none official) God Save the South (unofficial) The Bonnie Blue Flag (unofficial) Dixie (unofficial)  States that seceded under CSA control  States and territories claimed by CSA without formal secession and/or control Capital Montgomery, Alabama (until May 29, 1861) Richmond, Virginia... A congressional district is an electoral constituency that elects a single member of a congress. ...


The Beginnings of a Theory

Weaver gradually came to see himself as the "cultural doctor of the South," despite making his career in Chicago (Young 5). More specifically, he sought to resist what he saw as America's growing barbarism by teaching his students of the correct way to write, use, and understand language. His belief that a misuse of language led to social corruption led him to criticize jazz as a medium that promoted "barbaric impulses" because he perceived it as lacking form and rules (Scotchie 46). Barbarism may refer to: Barbarism (derived from barbarian), the condition to which a society or civilization may be reduced after a societal collapse, relative to an earlier period of cultural or technological advancement; the term may also be used pejoratively to describe another society or civilization which is deemed inferior... For other uses, see Jazz (disambiguation). ...


Weaver's study of American literature focused on the past, such as the nineteenth century culture of New England and the South, and the Lincoln-Douglas debates (Young 6). Attempting to truly understand language, Weaver concentrated on a culture's fundamental beliefs; that is, beliefs that strengthened and educated citizens into a course of action (Young 9). By teaching and studying language, he endeavored to generate a "healthier" culture that would no longer use language as a tool of lies and persuasion in a "prostitution of words" (Young 9). Moreover, in a capitalist society, applied science was the "sterile opposite" of what he saw as redemption – the "poetic and ethical vision of life" (Young 62). This article is about a style of debate. ...


Weaver condemned modern media and modern journalism as tools for exploiting the passive viewer. Convinced that ideas, not machines, compelled humanity towards a better future, he gave words precedence over technology (Nash 96). Influenced by the Agrarians' focus on poetry, he turned to poetic writing as a means of exorcising humanity (Young 76). In a civilized society, poetry allowed one to express personal beliefs that science and technology could not overrule. In Weaver's words, "We can will our world" (Nash 97). That is, human beings – not mechanical or social forces – can make positive decisions through language that will change their existence.


Communitarian Individualism

In a short speech delivered to the 1950 reunion of the Weaver clan, Weaver criticized urban life in Chicago as follows: "the more closely people are crowded together, the less they know one another" (Address 114). In a comparative study of Randolph of Roanoke and Thoreau, Weaver defined "individualism" in two ways: 1) "studied withdrawal from society" (i.e. Thoreau) and 2) "political action at the social level" (i.e. Randolph) (Young 11). Thoreau rejected society while Randolph embraced social bonds through politics. John Randolph (June 2, 1773 – May 24, 1833), known as John Randolph of Roanoke[1], was a leader in Congress from Virginia and spokesman for the Old Republican or Quids faction of the Democratic-Republican Party that wanted to restrict the federal governments roles. ... Thoreau redirects here. ...


Personally opposed to America's centralized political power, Weaver, like Randolph, preferred an individualism that included community (Young 12). "Community" here refers to a shared identity of values tied to a geographical and spatial location – in Weaver's case, the Old South. He concluded that individualism that is founded on community enabled a citizen "to know who he was and what he was about" (Young 12). Without this intimate foundation, citizens seeking individualism would be unable to reach a true, personal identity. More importantly, he believed that humans should grant priority to a living community and its well-being, not to individual fulfillment. (Scotchie 3).


Anti-Nominalism

In Ideas Have Consequences, Weaver analyzed William of Occam's 14th century notions of nominalist philosophy. In broad terms, nominalism is the idea that "universals are not real, only particulars" (Young 107). Nominalism deprives people of a measure of universal truth, so that each man becomes his own "priest and ethics professor" (Scotchie 5). Weaver deplored this relativism, and believed that modern men were "moral idiots," "incapable of distinguishing between better and worse" (Nash 89). William of Ockham (also Occam or any of several other spellings, IPA: ) (c. ... This article is about Universalism in religion and theology. ... For the physics theory with a similar name, see Theory of Relativity. ...


Weaver believed that America's moral degradation and turn to a commodity culture were unwitting consequences of its belief in nominalism. That is, a civilization that no longer believed in universal transcendental values had no moral ambition to understand a higher truth outside of man (Nash 89). The result was a "shattered world" (Young 113), in which truth was unattainable, and freedom only an illusion. Moreover, without a focus on the sort of higher truth that can be found in organized religions, people turned to the more tangible idols of science and materialism. In philosophy, transcendental/transcendence, has three different but related primary meanings, all of them derived from the words literal meaning (from Latin), of climbing or going beyond: one that originated in Ancient philosophy, one in Medieval philosophy and one in modern philosophy. ... Materialism refers to how a person or group chooses to spend their resources, particularly money and time. ...


Weaver's ideal society was that of the European Middle Ages, when the Roman Catholic Church gave to all an accurate picture of reality and truth (Nash 94). Nominalism emerged in the late Middle Ages, but had few adherents before the 17th century. More generally, Weaver felt that the shift from universal truth and transcendental order to individual opinion and industrialism adversely affected the moral health of Americans. The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... Catholic Church redirects here. ...


Nominalism also undermines the concept of hierarchy, which depends entirely on fundamental truths about people. Weaver, in contrast, believed that hierarchies were necessary. He argued that social, gender, and age-related equality actually undermined stability and order. Believing in "natural social groupings" (Young 112), he claimed that it should be possible to sort people into suitable categories without the envy of equality. Using the hierarchical structure of a family as an example, he pointed out that family members accept various duties grounded in "sentiment" and "fraternity," not equality and rights (Young 113). Continuing in this direction, he claimed not to understand the feminist movement, which led women to abandon their stronger connection to nature and intuition for a superficial political and economic equality with men (Young 123). A hierarchy (in Greek: , derived from — hieros, sacred, and — arkho, rule) is a system of ranking and organizing things or people, where each element of the system (except for the top element) is a subordinate to a single other element. ... The feminist movement (also known as the Womens Movement or Womens Liberation) is a series of campaigns on issues such as reproductive rights (including abortion), domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. ...


Weaver maintained that egalitarianism only promoted "[s]uspicion, hostility, and lack of trust and loyalty" (Toledano 270). Instead, he believed that there must be a center, a transcendent truth on which people could focus and structure their lives. Contrary to what nominalism would suggest, language can be pinned down, can serve as a foundation through which one can "find real meaning" (Young 122). In Weaver's words, "a world without generalization would be a world without knowledge" (Young 114). Thus universals allow true knowledge.


Noble Rhetoric

In The Ethics of Rhetoric, Weaver evaluates the ability of rhetoric to persuade. Similarly to ancient philosophers, Weaver found that language has the power to move people to do good, to do evil, or to do nothing at all (Young 129). In his defense of orthodoxy, Weaver set down a number of rhetorical principles. He grounded his definition of "noble rhetoric" in the work of Plato; such rhetoric aimed to improve intellect by presenting men with "better versions of themselves" (Young 135). He also agreed with Plato's notions of the realities of transcendentals (recall Weaver's hostility to nominalism) and the connection between form and substance (Johannesen 7). For instance, Weaver admired the connection between the forms of poetry and rhetoric. Like poetry, rhetoric relies on the connotation of words as well as their denotation. Good rhetoricians, he claimed, use poetic analogies to relate abstract ideas directly to the listeners (Young 132). Specifically focusing on metaphor, he found that comparison should be an essential part of the rhetorical process (Johannesen 23). He also laid down that rhetoricians should do their research well, and that sources should always be scrutinized (Young 139). Specifically, the "argument from authority is only as good as the authority itself" (Johannesen 27). This page lists some links to ancient philosophy, although for Western thinkers prior to Socrates, see Pre-Socratic philosophy. ... For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation). ... Connotation is a subjective cultural and/or emotional coloration in addition to the explicit or denotative meaning of any specific word or phrase in a language, i. ... This word has distinct meanings in other fields: see denotation (semiotics) and connotation and denotation. ... Analogy is both the cognitive process of transferring information from a particular subject (the analogue or source) to another particular subject (the target), and a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process. ... This article is about the concept of abstraction in general. ... This article is about metaphor in literature and rhetoric. ...


In Language is Sermonic, Weaver pointed to rhetoric as a presentation of values. Sermonic language seeks to persuade the listener, and is inherent in all communication. He also considered rhetoric and the multiplicity of man. That is, he acknowledged that logic alone was not enough to persuade man, who is "a pathetic being, that is, a being feeling and suffering" (Weaver 1352). He felt that societies that placed great value on technology often became dehumanized. Like a machine relying purely on logic, the rhetorician was in danger of becoming "a thinking robot" (Weaver 1353).


Weaver divided the nature of man into four categories: rational, emotional, ethical, and religious (Johannesen 13). Without considering these characteristics as a whole, rhetoricians cannot hope to persuade their listeners. Moreover, when motivating the listener to adopt attitudes and actions, rhetoricians must consider the uniqueness of each audience (Weaver 1351). In other words, orators should acknowledge that each audience has different needs and responses, and must formulate their arguments accordingly. Weaver also divided "argumentation" into four categories: cause-effect, definition, consequences, and circumstances (Johannesen 27). The rhetorician must decide which method of argument will best persuade a given audience. For other uses, see Definition (disambiguation). ... Consequentialism refers to those moral theories which hold that the consequences of a particular action form the basis for any valid moral judgment about that action. ... Communities of Circumstance are similar to Communities of Practice, except that they are driven by position, circumstance or life experiences rather than a shared interest. ...


In his The Ethics of Rhetoric, Weaver coined the phrases "god terms" and "devil terms" (Young 147-49). "God terms" are words particular to a certain age and are vague, but have "inherent potency" in their meanings (Young 147). Such words include progress and freedom – words that seem impenetrable and automatically give a phrase positive meaning. In contrast, "devil terms" are the mirror image, and include words such as Nazi and Un-American (Weaver 222-23). Rhetoric, Weaver argued, must employ such terminology only with care. Employing ethical rhetoric is the first step towards rejecting vague terminology with propagandistic value (Johannesen 27). Upon hearing a "god" or "devil" term, Weaver suggested that a listener should "hold a dialectic with himself" to consider the intention behind such persuasive words (Weaver 232). He concluded that "a society's health or declension was mirrored in how it used language" (Young 151). If a language is pure, so too will be those who employ it. For other uses, see Freedom. ... Nazism in history Nazi ideology Nazism and race Outside Germany Related subjects Lists Politics Portal         Nazism or National Socialism (German: Nationalsozialismus), refers primarily to the ideology and practices of the Nazi Party (National Socialist German Workers Party, German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP) under Adolf Hitler. ... Un-American is a pejorative term used in the United States. ...


Weaver's Influence

Some regard The Southern Tradition at Bay as Weaver's best work. Ideas Have Consequences is more widely known, thanks to its substantial influence on the "postwar intellectual Right" (Nash 87). The leading young conservative intellectuals of the era, including Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley Jr., and Willmoore Kendall, praised the book for its critical insights (Young 179). Publisher Henry Regnery claims that the book gave the modern conservative movement a strong intellectual foundation (Nash 82). A key libertarian theorist of the 1960s – and former Communist Party USA member – Frank S. Meyer, publicly thanked Weaver for inspiring him to join the Right (Nash 88). Ideas Have Consequences (1948), a book by Richard M. Weaver, had a good deal of influence stating a nostalgic, agrarian variant of political conservatism. ... “Right wing” redirects here. ... Russell Kirk Russell Kirk (1918, Plymouth, Michigan – 29 April 1994, Mecosta, Michigan), was an American political theorist, historian, social critic, and man of letters, best known for his influence on 20th century American conservatism. ... William Frank Buckley Jr. ... Willmoore Kendall (1909-1968) was an American conservative writer and Professor of political philosophy. ... Frank Meyer (born 1909, died 1972) was a conservative political philosopher and co-founding editor of National Review. ...


For liberal relativists, Weaver was a misguided authoritarian. For conservatives, he was a champion of tradition and liberty, with the emphasis on tradition. For Southerners, he was a refreshing defender of an "antimodern" South (Nash 108). His refutation of what Russell Kirk termed "ritualistic liberalism" (Nash 87) struck a chord with conservative intellectuals. Stemming from a tradition of "cultural pessimism" (Nash 92), his critique of nominalism, however startling, gave conservatives a new philosophical direction. His writing attacked the growing number of modern Americans denying conservative structure and moral uprightness by replacing them with naive relativism. In the 1980s, the emerging paleoconservatives [2] adapted his vision of the Old South to express antimodernism (Nash 109). Weaver has come to be seen as defining America's plight and as inspiring conservatives to find "the relationship between faith and reason for an age that does not know the meaning of faith" (Toledano 259). For other uses, see Tradition (disambiguation). ... Liberalism is an ideology, philosophical view, and political tradition which holds that liberty is the primary political value. ... Cultural pessimism is a variety of pessimism, as formulated by what is nowadays called a cultural critic. ... Paleoconservatism (sometimes shortened to paleo or paleocon when the context is clear) is a term for an anti-communist and anti-authoritarian[1] right wing movement based in the United States that stresses tradition, civil society and classical federalism, along with familial, religious, regional, national and Western identity. ... Since the beginnings of mechanization and even industrialization, there has been a strand of opinion which rejects, objects to, or has been highly critical of the costs of the changes that these trends brought about. ...


See also

Agrarianism is a social and political philosophy. ... The term paleoconservative (sometimes shortened to paleo or paleocon when the context is clear) refers to an American branch of conservative Old Right thought that is frequently at odds with the current of conservative thought as espoused by the Republican Party elite. ... In philosophy, nominalism is the theory that abstract terms, general terms, or universals do not represent objective real existents, but are merely names, words, or vocal utterances (flatus vocis). ... Rhetoric (from Greek , rhêtôr, orator, teacher) is generally understood to be the art or technique of persuasion through the use of oral, visual, or written language; however, this definition of rhetoric has expanded greatly since rhetoric emerged as a field of study in universities. ... Wendell Berry (born August 5, 1934, Henry County, Kentucky) is an American man of letters, academic, cultural and economic critic, and farmer. ... Donald Grady Davidson (August 8, 1893 - April 25, 1968) was a U.S. poet, essayist, social and literary critic, and author. ... Russell Kirk Russell Kirk (1918, Plymouth, Michigan – 29 April 1994, Mecosta, Michigan), was an American political theorist, historian, social critic, and man of letters, best known for his influence on 20th century American conservatism. ... John Crowe Ransom (April 30, 1888, Pulaski, Tennessee- July 3, 1974, Gambier, Ohio) was an American poet, essayist, social and political theorist, man of letters, and academic. ...

Bibliography

Books by Weaver

Books in bold are still in print.

  • 1948. Ideas Have Consequences. Univ. of Chicago Press.
  • 1985 (1953). The Ethics of Rhetoric. Davis CA: Hermagoras Press.
  • 1967 (1957). Rhetoric and Composition, 2nd ed. of Composition: A Course in Reading and Writing. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
  • 1995 (1964). Visions of Order The Cultural Crisis of Our Time. Bryn Mawr PA: ISI Press.
  • 1965. Life without Prejudice and Other Essays. Chicago: Henry Regnery.
  • 1989 (1968). The Southern Tradition at Bay, Core, George, and Bradford, M.E., eds. Washington DC: Regnery Gateway.
  • 1970. Language is Sermonic: R. M. Weaver on the Nature of Rhetoric, Johannesen, R., Strickland, R., and Eubanks, R.T., eds. Louisiana State Univ. Press.
  • 1987. The Southern Essays of Richard M. Weaver, Curtis, G. M. III, and Thompson, James J. Jr., eds. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.

Ideas Have Consequences (1948), a book by Richard M. Weaver, had a good deal of influence stating a nostalgic, agrarian variant of political conservatism. ...

Shorter writings cited in this entry

  • Weaver, Richard M., "Address to Family Meeting," August 10, 1950, in Pearl M. Weaver,The Tribe of Jacob: The Descendants of the Reverend Jacob Weaver of Reems Creek, North Carolina, 1786-1868 and Elizabeth Siler Weaver. 114.
  • ------, 2001, "Language is Sermonic" from The Rhetorical Tradition, 2nd ed. Bizzell, P. & B. Herzber, eds. Bedford Books: 1351-1360.

Shorter writings

In addition to his books, Weaver published 61 book reviews, 3 pamphlets with the ISI Press, and 35 articles, including 4 in the Georgia Review, 4 in Modern Age, 6 in National Review, and 4 in the Sewanee Review:

Secondary literature

  • Duffy, Bernard K. and Martin Jacobi, 1993. The Politics of Rhetoric: Richard Weaver and the Conservative Tradition. Greenwood Press.
  • Johannesen, Richard L., Rennard Strickland, and Ralph T. Eubanks, 1970. Richard M. Weaver on the Nature of Rhetoric: An Interpretation in Weaver, R. M., Language is Sermonic. Louisiana State University Press: 7-30.
  • Nash, George H., 1998, "The Influence of Ideas Have Consequences on the Conservative Intellectual Movement in America," in Smith (1998): 81-124.
  • Scotchie, Joseph, ed., 1995. The Vision of Richard Weaver. New Brunswick NJ: Transaction Publishers.
  • -------, 1997. Barbarians in the Saddle: An Intellectual Biography of Richard M. Weaver. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.
  • Smith, Ted J. III et al., eds., 1998. Steps Toward Restoration: The Consequences of Richard Weaver's Ideas. Wilmington DL: Intercollegiate Studies Institute.
  • Toledano, Ben C., 1998. "The Ideas of Richard Weaver," in Smith (1998): 256-286.
  • Young, Fred Douglas, 1995. Richard Weaver: A Life of the Mind. University of Missouri Press.

External links

  • Touchstone, Nov./Dec. 1998, issue devoted to Weaver's work.
  • Acton Institute, "Richard M. Weaver, 1910-63," Religion and Liberty.
  • Peppe, Enrico, 2004, Belated review of Ideas Have Consequences.
  • Scotchie, Joseph, "Richard M. Weaver: Philosopher from Dixie," Southern Events.
  • Smith, Ted J. III, 2002, "Agrarianism," Virginia Viewpoint.
  • Stromberg, Joseph, 2001, "Weaver of Liberty," The Ludwig von Mises Institute.
  • A Rhetorician's Treasury of Richard M. Weaver.
  • Richard M. Weaver Fellowship.

 
 

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