Productive Strife: Andy Clark’s Cognitive Science and Rhetorical Agonism

This talk coauthored with Nathaniel Rivers contends that the classical agonism of human activity meshes with Andy Clark’s concept of distributed human physiology and cognition, and that a rhetorical perspective is useful to address this relationship. To support this assertion, the talk draws connections between Clark's intellectual project and rhetorical theory. Rhetoric may well be, in Clark's terms, the ultimate cyborg technology, and the very thing that can address the real concerns he gives voice to in the conclusion of Natural-Born Cyborgs: namely that—heterogeneous as we are—there is always the risk of inequality, intrusion, uncontrollability, alienation, deceit and degradation among people. We do not claim that rhetoric solves these problems, but that it offers a means of reinterpreting such strife as a productive part of a generative agonism.