“Kenneth Burke and Mary Baker Eddy” in Unending Conversations: New Writings by and about Kenneth Burke
Feehan, Michael. “Kenneth Burke and Mary Baker Eddy,” Pages 206–23 in Unending Conversations: New Writings by and about Kenneth Burke. Edited by Greg Henderson and David Cratis Williams. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2001.
Feehan argues that Kenneth Burke developed his philosophy by ‘secularizing’ principles Burke had appropriated from Mary Baker Eddy during his childhood in a Christian Science household. For instance, in developing her system of healing, Eddy made prominent use of the principle of ‘reversal.’ To know the “spiritual fact” according to Eddy, you “discover” it “by reversing the material fable” (213, quoting Science and Health 129). In a “methodological appropriation of Eddy” (221), Burke strives to show how individuals may transform their “orientations” to the world by a kind of reversal he calls “perspectives by incongruity” (208). While a secularized “piety” may for Burke sustain the coherence of a perspective, and offer stability in one’s orientation to the world, it may also entrap one in unproductive “rut systems” (208). Acknowledging incongruous perspectives enables one to “break open those orientations” (208) and turn on to new roads. Burke’s methodology of reversal may have originated with Eddy’s view that material existence is nothing other than a flawed orientation that can be reversed by seeing its incongruity with biblical teachings about immortality and healing.
ISBN-13 (Softcover): 978-0809323531
ISBN-13 (Hardcover): 978-0809323524