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Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue: From the Art of Discourse to the Art of Reason

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226629766
ISBN-10: 0226629767
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Ong's elucidation of Ramism as a significant segment of the history of logic is by far the most complete, most searching, most convincing that has been written. In particular, his account of the internal history of Ramist dialectic is an amazing and valuable piece of scholarship. . . . So fundamental is Father Ong's achievement, that not only scholars of Ramus and Ramism, but anyone with the lightest interest in the Renaissance as a whole, and especially in the histories of science and logic of this period, should turn, and return, to this work to obtain considerable enlightenment about a segment of intellectual history that has too long remained confused and obscure."

(John E. Murdoch Isis 1961-12-01)

"This careful book succeeds in correcting and expanding our knowledge of the thought and works of Ramus through a patient examination and rigid reconsideration of the source materials, old and new."

(French Review 1960-05-01)

"Indispensable for any scholar interested in Ramus and his influence. But beyond that [it makes] an important contribution to the continuing attempt to find out where the modern mind came from."

(T. K. Scott Jr. Journal of Philosophy)

About the Author

Walter J. Ong, SJ (1912-2003) was professor at St. Louis University and an internationally renowned scholar of rhetorical theory and history. He is the author of numerous books, including In the Human Grain: Further Explorations of Contemporary Culture and Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 436 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (January 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226629767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226629766
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #896,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The review to the previous edition that appeared in 1999 still holds true about the importance of Ong's effort.

Adrian Johns' forward in this edition, asks "Why study Ramus?" and indicates the cultural phenomenon that occurred when Ramus's charts went viral in the mid to late 16th century. He summarizes Ong's explanation regarding this translation of thought into visually oriented branching diagrams printed on a page. The summary addresses Ramus contribution to "eye" oriented approaches (vs. verbal / auditory or "ear"), attention to steps or methods in arriving at a conclusions or outcomes, and foundation for many succeeding educators and thinkers such as Descartes and Newton.

In addition to Johns' forward, the inclusions of Ong's preface for an earlier paperback edition and his original forward are very helpful. In the former, Ong mentions that had he done this work later he would have included attention to the resemblance of Ramus' binary dichotomized charts with those of digital computer diagrams. For Ong, this subterranean parallel was as if Ramus was writing programs 400 years before computers with similar consequences to what is occurring today in the modern world.

Although quite dense and detailed, reading Ong's Ramus yields many rewards and insights into the transition to the modern mind.
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Format: Paperback
Walter J. Ong.s massively researched 1954 Harvard University doctoral dissertation was published, slightly revised, by Harvard University Press in two volumes in 1958.

Basically, the second volume, RAMUS AND TALON INVENTORY, is an annotated bibliography of the more than 750 printed volumes by Peter Ramus and his followers and critics that Ong had tracked down in more than 100 different libraries -- almost all of the volumes in Latin.

The year after Ong died in 2003 at the age of 90, the University of Chicago Press reissued his landmark 1958 book RAMUS, METHOD, AND THE DECAY OF DIALOGUE: FROM THE ART OF DISCOURSE TO THE ART OF REASON in a paperback edition with a new foreword by Adrian Johns. It is a book that still repays careful study.

In it Ong works with the aural-visual contrast that he acknowledges he borrowed from the French philosopher Louis Lavelle (1883-1951), most notably from his book LA PAROLE ET L'ECRITURE, 2nd ed. (1942). The aural-visual contrast is also known as the sound-sight contrast.

For Ong, words are basically sound.

But written words involve sight.

In addition, written words are written in space.

For Ong, the spatialization of thought expressed implicitly in written words in space on parchment or another substance, and the quantification of thought expressed in certain words in logic combine to make the world-as-view sense of life a heady brew, especially in print culture in Western culture.

For centuries in the history of formal logic, the quantification of thought was expressed in words. Eventually however, as Ong explains the quantification of thought became expressed in symbols - in symbolic logic.
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