Solving the mystery of presence: Verbal/visual interaction in Darwin's structure and distribution of coral reefs

Alan G. Gross

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

In Chaïm Perelman, Ray D. Dearin and I contend that presence transcends the isolated effects that Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca catalog; we claim that there is a global form, a synergy of effects, in which "to be persuaded is to live in a world made significantly different by the persuader" (151). In "Presence as Argument in the Public Sphere," I extend this form of presence from the verbal to the visual. In this essay, I attempt to further the analysis of presence, to offer a systematic account of the verbal/visual interaction on which it depends, to offer, in effect, a genealogy of presence. Such an account is essential if we are to explain the mystery of verbal/visual presence, to explain what is, in fact, the central mystery of Perelmanian presence, the transformation of the perceptual into the argumentative. According to The New Rhetoric, presence is based on the fact that "the thing on which the eye dwells, that which is best or most ofen seen is, by that very circumstance, overestimated." Initially, then, presence is perceptual; its effect is "to [fill] the whole field of consciousness." But, according to Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca, such is the nature of presence that what is "at first a psychological phenomenon, becomes an essential element in argumentation" (116-18).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Promise of Reason
Subtitle of host publicationStudies in The New Rhetoric
PublisherSouthern Illinois University Press
Pages83-102
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)0809330253, 9780809330256
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

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