ERIC Number: EJ748037
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Alone in the Garden: How Gregor Mendel's Inattention to Audience May Have Affected the Reception of His Theory of Inheritance in "Experiments in Plant Hybridization"
Written Communication, v24 n1 p3-27 2007
From a rhetorical perspective, Mendel's work and its reception elicit two important questions: (a) why were Mendel's arguments so compelling to 20th century biologists? And (b) why where they so roundly ignored by his contemporaries? The focus of this article is to examine the latter question while commenting on the former by employing several tactics for rhetorical analysis including historical, textual, and audience analyses. These analyses suggest that Mendel's argument resembles 20th century biological arguments in its use of mathematical principles and formulae to both inform the design of experiments and support the law-like regularity of conclusions. These procedures, however, were not regarded by his audience of hybridists, botanists, cytologists, and naturalists as sufficiently persuasive or necessarily even legitimate. I will argue that had he taken a more rhetorical tact and considered the position of his audience on the legitimacy of the scope of his conclusions, his methods for making arguments, and his assumptions about heritable characters perhaps his arguments wouldn't have fallen on deaf ears.
Descriptors: Audience Response, Rhetorical Theory, Plants (Botany), Innovation, Intellectual History, Science Experiments, Research Methodology, Research Problems, Inquiry, Persuasive Discourse, Mathematical Concepts, Research Design
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
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