KJ Hannah Greenberg

The Channels of Our Verbal Investments: Part Two

It’s insufficient for us to merely explore the tools we use to spread our aims. We need, similarly, to examine how voiced content shapes our approaches to our interactions and our relative affinity for them.

Purportedly, we need to grasp that and how dispersal’s elements impact us as individuals and as a civilization. Any improved interpretation of these pulls can advance our awareness of the ethical dimension of give-and takes’ references to objects and happenstances and our awareness of how the characteristics of communication channels undergird collective morality. If we can better our discernment of the arrangements in which personal and pooled diction regulates our daily undertakings, we can discover audiences’ expectations in rhetorical situations, and, accordingly, adjust our assemblages of utterances. As a result, we’ll become more persuasive (over and again, our aim is to alter listeners or readers’ opinions.)

When adjudicating our promulgations’ rationale, it’s beneficial for us to attend to the aforementioned features. Maybe, viz., we’re unwise to pass judgment on our own and others’ resourcefulness in line with social stations due to the actuality that, many a time, elucidations’ shapers are disparate from each other although audiences’ confraternity gives the impression of audiences having universal qualities. Correspondingly, in arbitrating initiatives, in respect to metatheories that embrace bonds, perhaps, we’re wrong to acknowledge linguistic kinship but not to acknowledge individualized messages. If, alternatively, when addressing exchanges, we use the sort of theoretical discussions that embrace both differences and likenesses, we could both accede and set apart an assortment of suggestions.

In keeping with proportional, coherent sensibility, when it’s difficult for us to classify observations of our networks by means of concrete terms, we use abstract ones. When it’s difficult for us to use abstract ones, we employ meta-abstract ones, and so on, until we reach our computational limits. Subsequently, these cerebral restrictions describe and are described by us.“Human beings make errors, tend to forget, are impatient[,] and look for least effort solutions. At the same time, humans learn with experience, put up with error and ambiguity, use vast amounts of knowledge, and communicate using … language.”1

Said differently, our “talk about texts is important…in developing those skills usually identified as [‘]literate[’].”2 If we can formulate deliberations about our pronouncements, we can meaningfully assay them.

Next, if we ordinarily grapple with interchanges via empiricism but a minority of us handle crossing points via hermeneutics, that minority will find its meta-talk unfavorably dissected. On the whole, we benefit from categorization that’s neither rooted in the relativism/experientialism of comprehension’s hermeneutical stance nor in the absolutism/objectivism of philosophy’s pragmatic one. “Circumstantial compulsion [can seem] equivalent to coercion” 3 and some behaviors can become reduced to postures.4 Hence, we can pinpoint procedures in which symbol using alters and controls how populaces react to their environment and to themselves, and in which understood and critiqued symbolic manipulation enters into the examination of problems, the analysis of causes, and the management of solutions.

Therefore, we ought to consider putting our enlargement into action. Expansive thinking  could be passively set into motion if we opine gratitude for life variables operating beyond our control. Weigh how contemporary “therapeutic encounters guide the client into adjusting to the societal expectations that permeate the dominant narratives instead of calling attention to the identities this nature of parleys provides or the interests it serves.”5 This class of thinking can be actively put into motion if we lecture or otherwise instruct our fellows about the necessity of accepting rhetorical diversity. Social change requires lots of commitment.

After that, if “public” is to be an all-encompassing designation, we need to offer credence to an assortment of meshings. Too often, we erroneously propound positive responses to the viewpoints of “entrusted persons,” e.g., of doctors, professors, and lawmakers. Especially, we allow them to ask us intrusive questions that we, ourselves, would ask no one. This reinforcement of social strata challenges us when it comes to adjudicating “verity” among heterogeneous peoples. When members of a single social echelon compiles and then enforces established mores, we’re left with an inflexible basis for discrete and cooperative worth. It’s not so much that we need to make expert-reliant situations “fair” (after all, we want our plumbers to deal with water pipes and our physicians to negotiate blood vessels) as it is that we need to be overt about this power discrepancy among accountabilities.

Even after millennia of contrived rationale for conserving social hierarchies—of maintaining rubrics allegedly integral to out commentary’s usage, we’d benefit from reassessing why we regard certain communications in certain manners. We need to acknowledge the bounds of human cogitation, the confines wrought by employing certain types of metatheories, and the parameters established by unbalanced social roles. When we’re able to concede all of these restrictions on our interactions, we’ll possess a truer picture of human communication.

1.      Raj Reddy. “Computational Limits to Human Thinking in a Society With Too Much Information And Too Little Time.” 4 Feb. 2015. Accessed 23 Mar. 2022.


  1. Janet W. Astington and David R. Olson. “Talking about Text: How Literacy Contributes to Thought.” Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, 1990, 2.
  2. Alan Wertheimer. Princeton UP, 1987, 266.
  3. Frederick George The Tactical Uses of Passion: An Essay on Power, Reason, and Reality. 1st ed. Cornell UP, 1983, 58 and 77-78
  4. L. Cloud. “Narrative, Ideology, Therapy: A Theory and Case Study.” Speech Communication Association Convention. San Francisco, 1989, 20.
About the Author
KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs. Thereafter, her writing has been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than forty books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.