About this book Mr. Burke contributes an introductory and summarizing remark, "What is involved, when we say what people are doing and why they are doing it? An answer to that question is the subject of this book. The book is concerned with the basic forms of through which, in accordance with the nature of the world as all men necessarily experience it, are exemplified in the attributing of motives. These forms of though can be embodied profoundly or trivially, truthfully or falsely. They are equally present in systematically elaborated or metaphysical structures, in legal judgments, in poetry and fiction, in political and scientific works, in news and in bits of gossip offered at random."
Part One: Ways of Placement
I. CONTAINER AND THING CONTAINED
II. ANTINOMIES OF DEFINITION
III. SCOPE AND REDUCTION
Part Two: The Philosophic Schools
II. AGENT IN GENERAL
IV. AGENCY AND PURPOSE
Part Three: On Dialectic
I. THE DIALECTIC OF CONSTITUTIONS
II. DIALECTIC IN GENERAL
Kenneth Burke has been termed "simply the finest literary critic in the world, and perhaps the finest since Coleridge" (Stanley Edgar Hyman, The New Leader). Mr. Burke has published ten other works with the University of California Press: Towards a Better Life (1966); Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method (1966) Collected Poems, 1915-1967 (1968); The Complete White Oxen: Collected Short Fiction of Kenneth Burke (1968); A Grammar of Motives (1969); Permanence and Change: An Anatomy of Purpose (1984); The Philosophy of Literary Form (1974); A Rhetoric of Motives (1969); The Rhetoric of Religion: Studies in Logology (1970); and Attitudes Toward History, Third Edition (1984).
"A Grammar of Motives," published in 1945, is the first volume of a gigantic trilogy, planned to include A Rhetoric of Motives and A Symbolic of Motives, which will be called something like On Human Relations. The aim of the whole series is no less than the comprehensive exploration of human motives and the forms of thought and expression built around them, and its ultimate object, expression in the epigraph: 'ad bellum purificandum,' is to eliminate the whole world of conflict that can be eliminated through understanding. The method or key metaphor for the study is 'drama' or 'dramatism,' and the basic terms of analysis are the dramatistic pentad: Act, Scene, Agent, Agency, and Purpose. The Grammar, which Burke confesses in the Introduction grew from a prolegomena of a few hundred words to nearly 200,000, is a consideration of the purely internal relationship of these five terms, 'their possibilities of transformation, their range of permutations and combinations'..."—Stanley Edgar Hyman, author of The Armed Vision