A rhetorical theory of institutions

Paul Jay Vierra, University of Texas at El Paso


How an institution remembers itself affects its practices and the ensuing knowledge produced. This is a result of the differences between truths and knowledge, which are based on beliefs. Beliefs are defined using either pragmatic language, which is based on observations and can be justified, or fictive language, which cannot be justified. The practices of an institution can be affected by the beliefs of the institution, which in turn affects scholarship. Modern research universities, such as the University of Texas at El Paso, must turn their research gaze not only outward, but also inwards in order to better serve society. Such examinations must negotiate the two cultures found within each research university that divides the humanities from the sciences. The tool to bridge this gap is found within the unifying field of rhetoric, an innate trait possessed by every human that facilitates the processing of belief into knowledge using pragmatic and fictive languages. Any examination of an institution, be it higher education, government, or economic, rests on four pillars. These pillars are place, belief, argumentation, and archives. Together they determine how an institution uses rhetoric to process belief for their own use.

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Recommended Citation

Vierra, Paul Jay, "A rhetorical theory of institutions" (2016). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10151259.