Revolution Lullabye

October 11, 2006

Rhetoric of Inquiry: Charles Darwin

Filed under: Uncategorized — by revolutionlullabye @ 3:21 am

Campbell, John Angus. “Charles Darwin: Rhetorician of Science.” In The Rhetorical Turn. Ed. Herbert W. Simons. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

Campbell applies the theory of rhetoric of inquiry to show how Darwin uses rhetorical strategies to persuade both a popular and a professional audience. To appeal to people outside the scientific community, he uses common sense and straightforward English language in a charming way that downplayed his genius. To appeal to his colleagues, Darwin misled the reader in his introduction of Origin by claiming that he came to his discovery of natural selection through inductive observations, in the respected Baconian tradition, even though his notebooks prove he worked the other way, starting with a deductive theory. Darwin used metaphors like “struggle for existence” rhetorically, to make his claims both easy to reference and to connect a variety of ideas together. Campbell, by showing the rhetorical moves that Darwin made in The Origin of Species, uses rhetoric of inquiry to prove that even the discourse of science, commonly believed to be objective, is persuasive at its heart.

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