Summary Of Kenneth Burke's Clause By Kenneth Burke
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Kenneth Burke’s full definition of man is broken up into five clauses. Man is “the symbol using (symbol-making, symbol-misusing) animal; an inventor of the negative (or moralized by the negative); separated from his natural condition by instruments of his own making; goaded by the spirit of hierarchy (or moved by the sense of order); and rotten with perfection.” Of these five clauses, we believe that “Man is the symbol using, symbol-making and symbol-misusing animal” is the most important as it creates a basis to which each of the other clauses are dependent upon.
Symbols are tools that man uses to communicate their thoughts by giving everything its own meaning. As we attribute meaning to something we also attribute what it is not, hence man is the inventor of the negative. This concept that man is the inventor of the negative is a product of the human symbol system. This connection is created between language and tools because humans used symbols as a tool to create language and give the language shared meaning. As words are assigned there is an implied sense of negativity in the ability to use words (501). In order to know what something means, you also have to know what it does not mean. A chair is a chair, it is not a table, not a lamp and not a book. We know what…show more content… In essence, it means that man strives for order and status, in fact, they crave it. The notion of order is created and given meaning through the symbols man uses, misuses, and abuses. Some things are given more meaning or held in higher esteem than others. Much like how man kneels on one knee in front of the king, but kneels on two in front of God. (506) Man has assumed God a higher position on the hierarchy than the king. Where a man is positioned in the hierarchy is a symbol of his status. The higher the status a man has, the more privileges he receives, and on the contrary those with a lower status are denied certain