Tag Archives: Stanle Fish

Discrimination in Stanley Fish’s Homo Seriosus and Homo Rhetoricus Argument

When we were discussing homo seriosus and homo rhetoricus in class on Thursday, I was really impressed with Brittany’s view on homo seriosus.  (At least I think it was Brittany.  I don’t really know anyone in class, but I later found her same argument on her blog).  As she said, in class and on her blog, how can a woman subscribe to something like homo seriosus that discriminates against her gender?  When I was considering which side of the debate I fell on, I didn’t even notice this discrimination (although I don’t think I subscribe to homo seriosus views; I just have different reasons not to).  I tend to gloss over these oversights, thinking of “men” as “people, which works more with my world view.  But in doing so, I generally ignore the millenia of patriarchy that our society is still trying to overcome. 

After re-examining Stanley Fish’s paper,  I unfortunatelyfound this bias present in his description of homo rhetoricus as well.  His presentation of homo seriosus blatantly says “which constitutes a referent reality for the men living in it” and “independent of man,” referring to men and not humans or men and women.  While his description of homo rhetoricus has no blatant reference to “men” (except that it is “rhetorical man”), Fish does present homo rhetoricus with a definite masculine slant, saying things like rhetorical man “is an actor; his reality public.”  He could have said something more gender neutral, like homo rhetoricus is an actor or actress, thus including everyone; he chose not to. 

So does this mean that I shouldn’t subscribe to either view because both discriminate against my gender?  Personally, I don’t think that is entirely fair.  While I don’t know when exactly Fish wrote this, I think that he could be forgiven for this indiscretion.  He still presents a valid argument differentiating these two stances.  He just needs to modernize his wording to include everyone.

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