Burke's "Unending Conversation" Metaphor

Kenneth Burke writes:

Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally's assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress.

The Philosophy of Literary Form 110-111

Oakeshott on Conversation An extended quotation to explore the conversational view of rhetoric.
Philosophy and Rhetoric, Argument and Exploration Distinctions among these terms to explore my argument.
Kolb and Ess on Rhetoric and Philosophy An elaboration/digression on the above distinctions.

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