A Neurorhetoric of Incongruity

Author: Michelle Gibbons (University of New Hampshire)

  • A Neurorhetoric of Incongruity


    A Neurorhetoric of Incongruity



As a conceptual resource for rhetoric, contemporary neuroscience has considerable potential. Yet how exactly rhetoricians should deploy it as such requires careful consideration. While some engage neuroscience in a foundationalist fashion, using it to ground rhetoric in empirically tested claims, I make the case for a non-foundationalist approach, arguing that neuroscience can serve as a resource for rhetoric on the basis of epistemologies that value the speculative, indeterminate, and contingent. That is, we can use neuroscience to achieve perspective rather than proof and continued conversation rather than resolution. More specifically, I suggest placing neuroscience in incongruous contact with rhetoric, using it to achieve Burkean perspective by incongruity. I then do so in an extended example that puts Antonio Damasio’s somatic marker hypothesis in incongruous contact with ancient accounts of eikos, thereby offering a fresh angle from which to view enduring discussions anew.

Keywords: neurorhetorics, epistemology, Kenneth Burke, perspective by incongruity, somatic marker hypothesis, eikos

How to Cite:

Gibbons, M., (2018) “A Neurorhetoric of Incongruity”, Poroi 13(2), 1-25. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2018 Michelle Gibbons

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Published on
08 Jan 2018
Peer Reviewed
CC BY-NC 4.0