Beyond Pentad to Hexad:

Dancing Partners and Burke's Sixth step

David M. Boje, Ph.D.

New Mexico State University

February 7, 2002


The purpose of this article, in part I, is to compare and contrast Burke's and Goffman's approach to frame. My contribution is to not only sort out their approaches but to assert that Frame is Burke's sixth element of Dramatism, which renders his Pentad a Hexad. The difference between Burke and Goffman's Frame, is that for Burke framing is a dialectical process, while for Goffman, Frame is a continuation of Epimenides' paradox (is what's inside the frame play or real). The purpose of this article, in part II, is to dance three approaches to Theatrics of Organizing, that of Burke, Goffman, and Aristotle. 


Kenneth Burke (1972: 23) says that "many times on later occasions: he "regretted" not adding a sixth element to his Pentad (act, scene, agent, agency, & purpose), and turning it into a Hexad. The purpose of this essay is to explore, what is Burke's sixth element? A simple answer is, it is the Frame of Attitudes. But, the more complex response is what kind? (See examples Hexad to Situation Leadership study guide; For in class exercise ideas see Games of Power Study guide - See SEPTET QUESTIONS section). 

The simple answer would be to follow Burke's suggestion in 1972 as he reflects upon the problem. Burke (1972: 23) says he partially developed the sixth term in A Grammar of Motives (1945) where Pentad is the book's focus, in a chapter titled "Incipient" and "Delayed" Action. Theatrics' sixth element, is "Attitude Frame" the arousal of a complexity of response in spectators to some event. Attitude can substitute for an act, or be a step towards an act (1945: 236). An example of an incipient act, is how "advertisers and propagandists induce action in behalf of their commodities or their causes by the formation of appropriate attitudes" (Burke, 1945: 236). George Herbert Mead's work is cited by Burke as an example of "delayed" action; through vocal gestures, we can arouse via language attitudes in self and others; even adopt the "attitude of the other." Our attitudes can modify our act. The complexity of our social attitudes can comprise the self (agent). Burke goes on to agree with Mead, that the self (agent) is largely formed by the effects of society's attitudes in general and our vocal gestures in particular (1945: 238). Attitude is only one aspect of the "Frame" element that Burke develops throughout his writing. Frame, as a theme, has more to do with dialectic of frames, and the frame of the dialectic approach he is developing.  A more sociological aspect of Frame is developed in a different work by Burke (1937 Attitudes Toward History); this is part of a theme in Burke's writing, to develop an alternative dialectic to Aristotle, Hegel, and Marx approaches.

Burke's books are a constant conversation and debate about dialectical frames with his main counter-agents, Aristotle, Hegel, and Marx. The chapter that would make Pentad into Hexad in A Grammar of Motives is no exception.  Before going on to look at Burke's Frame, setting some context in his life project,  to transform Marx's dialectic, as well as the dialectic of Hegel and Aristotle will be helpful at this point in our discussion. 

Burke argues that other approaches to dialectic have "repeatedly lost tract of [their] dramatistic origins, when thinkers lay all their stress upon the attempt to decide whether it  [dialectic] leads to true knowledge, or when they have so rigidified its forms in some particular disposition of terms (or dogma) that the underlying liquidity of its Grammar becomes concealed" (bracketed additions, mine). Burke finds Marx and Hegel too idealistic in there dialectic scheme and terminology (1945: 238-239). Marx, for Burke, is too polemic, a constant moralizing, a rage against the excess of capitalism rather than a dialectic (as Burke would have it be). In this chapter Burke (1945: 239-24) looks at what Aristotle's dialectic, the "inside the skin" in opposition to the "outside the skin," the opposition of "unspeakable" and "verbal" levels.

We can see this theme played out in A Grammar of Motives. Advertisers, Burke says,  want us to just respond to their messages, without any pause for reflection. But, in the delayed action, there is a pause; we forestall the act or reaction to such a stimulus, while we hesitate to think critically of our mental attitudes and what act we will choose (p. 242). We may have, for example an attitude of sympathy, that may lead us to an act or to substitute another act of sympathy.  "In the traditional Aristotelian usage, potentiality is to actuality as the possibility of doing something is to the actual doing of it, or as the unformed is to the formed" (Burke, 1945: 242). 

Now to the more complex response, and the subject of this essay. I think Burke gave a more Sociological rendition of the missing supplement to his Pentad, in a book titled Attitudes Toward History (1937). This book more that the 1945 project, develops Burke's approach to "Frame." As we proceed I want to show that this is quite a different approach to Frame, than that taken by Goffman (1974).  Goffman, in all his books, as I read them, never cites Burke. Yet, it is the "Frame" that rounds out the Pentad into the Hexad.  Before exploring Burke's more sociological Frame, I want to pause to explore Goffman's derivation of Frame. I shall argue that Goffman's approach to frame extends from the psychological to the sociological, while Burke's does the reverse. Neither cited the others' work. The point of continuity in their theorizing is that Burke's theory of incipient and delayed attitudes is as psychological as Goffman's rendition of Frame. To see this point, we need to look at how Goffman develops frame. 

Goffman's Frame - Goffman's use of frame in the 1974 book, Frame Analysis, centers around the question of when has a person given a "real performance," by which he mans "taken more than usual care and employed more than usual design and continuity in the presentation of what is ostensible not a performance at all" (p. 127). Goffman does not credit Burke for his inspiration of the "framing" process, that it is Gregory Bateson's exploration of whether a performance is play or the real thing, which gets cited (Goffman, 1974: 7). "It is in Bateson's (1955) paper that the term 'frame' was proposed in roughly the sense in which I want to employ it" (Goffman, 1974: 7).1  Bateson's (1955) paper is reprinted in his classic 1972 book, Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Bateson's frame is based on Epimenides' paradox. Epimenides (6th Century B.C.) said, ""All Cretans are liars...One of their own poets has said so" (Prior, 1958).2 

All statements within this frame are untrue.

I love you.

I hate you.

Figure 1: Epimenides' paradox (Bateson, 1972: 184).

"In sum, it is our hypothesis that the message "This is play" establishes a paradoxical frame comparable to Epimenides' paradox" (Bateson, 1972: 184).Bateson uses the paradox in Figure 1 to look at the process of framing, how for example the play frame "implies a special combination of primary and secondary processes... In primary process, map and territory are equated; in secondary process, they can be discriminated. In play, they are both equated and discriminated" (1972: 185). Bateson and Goffman, are looking at "psychological frame" that delimits "a class or set of messages (or meaningful actions)... on a certain occasion ... within a limited period of time and modified by the paradoxical premise system which we have described" in Figure 1 (Bates, 1972: 186). This is ironic in two ways. First, the Psychological Frame of Bateson and Goffman can be easily translated by Burke's Pentad (though neither Bateson or Goffman reference it). Two agents act (sending messages) in a scene (a certain occasion; time and place). Second, it is ironic that while Goffman is the Sociologist, Burke's Frame is more Sociological, and Goffman's more Psychological. Both Burke and Goffman are concerned with language games. Goffman (1974: 7) notes how his approach to Frame, is grounded in John Austin and Wittgenstein and in strategic study of fraud, deceit, misidentification, and impression management of interactions. 

Burke's Frame - Burke (1937, Attitudes Toward History), for me, is his more Sociological development of the Frame and Framing Process. Burke (1937: iii) begins with defining how Frames are comprised of terms that are attitudinal, and frame is also a process. For example a "Comic Frame" is about processes such as the "bureaucratization of the imaginative," which is what happens "when men try to translate some pure aim or vision into terms of its corresponding material embodiment" (p. iii), its "reduction to utilitarian routines" (p. v) in ways that are mildly Machiavellian" (p. v). Burke's exploration of Attitude is much more Sociological than his presentation in (1945: 235-246).  Burke (1937) can be read as a deeper exploration of the process of Grand Narrating and as part of his continued debate with the dialectic approaches of Aristotle, Hegel, and Marx. 

Burke draws a position on dialectic between the rejection of the progress myth (Lyotard, 1979/1984) and a rejection of the Meliorist positions. A Meliorist believes that the world naturally tends to get better and that this tendency can be furthered by human effort. Aristotle thought that Nature tended to get better over time; men used science and technology to help it along.  The position or Frame, is also called Meliorism.  The Progress Myth, a similar Frame, assumes that through science and technology human conditions of work and living is getting better all the time. For example, Burke (1937: v) say that the new situation being framed by the acceptance of bureaucratization of initiative and "mistaken heroics of war" is an "idiotic tragedy" whose consequence is "the willful ultimate poisoning of this lovely planet." The theme of the book is that the Comic Frame affords a choice for peace.

Burke's (1937: 20-25) dialectic is between "Frames of Acceptance"  and "Frames of Rejection." Frames center attention on some practical/critical factors but draw attention away from others that are ignored or marginalized. Futurism is an example of a frame of acceptance, as is the Progress Myth and Meliorism. A Frame of Acceptance has an over-emphasis on what is favorable, and an under-emphasis on any unfavorable consequences. A Frame of Rejection keeps the focus on the unfavorable, on for example the "culturally dispossessed" (Burke, 1937: 40-41). 

Tragic and Comic, are for Burke (1937: 54-59) both Frames of Acceptance, while Satire, particularly Burlesque and Grotesque are both Frames of Rejection. In the Tragic Frame the heroic agent is magnified as  embodying the historical drama (e.g. Hitler and Stalin). The Comic Frame accepts the feebleness of the anti-hero, caught in acts of "happy stupidity" partaking in Carpe Diem (snatching in the Ode, whatever mild pleasures are at hand). 

The Burlesque is a reduction of the situation to its absurdity, in polemic or caricature (p. 55). The Grotesque Frame can be a surrender in "ironic humility: to the misfortune that is all around; defeatism and escapism are stressed as options. In the Burlesque Frame of Feudalism, the serf is bound to the soil through duties and obligations. Burke (f. p. 56-57) also sees the trade union movement as Burlesque, re-introducing ambivalence in property relations, dissolving private ownership by insisting upon worker rights:

Significantly, it is the theoreticians behind Lewis's C.I.O. who are re-introducing into America the concept of ambivalence in property relationships. They are proceeding, roughly, as follows: Beginning with the recognition of the worker's obligations, they are insisting that these obligations be matched by rights. Hence, under the stimulus of their thinking, an economist writing in the daily press said recently: "Labor has a property right in skill, an ownership right in the job, an investment interest in income. Extend the concepts of property and ownership in this way, with institutions in keeping, and the classical co-ordinates of private ownership are automatically dissolved...

The Grotesque Frame for Burke is highly Superrealist, such as in Nietzsche's writing when lightning strikes to reveal a hidden (grotesque) landscape. Or in Joyce, when the lights go out, and workers can see a deeper understanding, by seeing in the bark. The Grotesque Frame breaks the Public Frame that people accept as common sense. Moves by writers such as Nietzsche and Joyce reveal the symbolic qualities and the deeper meanings of the Superstructure and all its non-symbolic interests quite clearly (p. 60). The worker when the lightening strikes or the lights go out, comes face to face with a bad economic system; an could heed the call for a revolutionary shift in attitudes. 

Marx's Superrealist use of the Grotesque Frame, for Burke is to violate the "Power of Positive Thinking" by "shouting at capitalism until it give him a diseased liver" (p. 68). The problem Burke raises is "Grotesque" becomes "Natural" to the social order, its "imaginative ingredients" become "bureaucratized" (p. 70).

Frames stretch and break. The stretch by and old frame hanging on to oppose an emergent frame is a casuistic one. For example the casuistic stretch of the Church was a revaluation, its "anti-business fiction" became an embrace of the "organization of business" (Burke, 1937: 72). The Popes gave their revenues to the Italian bankers for investment (p. 72). The casuistic stretch allowed what was called usury and disallowed, to become allowed. Goffman (1959, 1974) would call this face work or impression management, but for Burke (1937: 72) it is not only "face-saving fiction" work, it is  changing of the rules of the game within the frame. As the old frame stretches its value positions, to accommodate the new economic situation, it is no longer adequate to the new situation. 


Dancing Partners  is a playful approach to theorizing that Louis Pondy taught me in graduate school, in the mid-1970s. We were ask to take theories that appeared incommensurate and dance them together, seeing one through the eyes of the other.   This will be a dance with four partners, Aristotle, Burke, Boal, and Goffman. The rhythm of the dance is Theatre. I want to contrast the dancing steps of Aristotle, Boal, Burke, and Goffman, for each develops the Theatrical Frame into a different dance. 

Aristotle  - Aristotle’s Poetics (1450, written 350BCE) is the least applied of the three dramaturgical frameworks in Table 1. Aristotle believed plot to be the most important of the six elements, and spectacle, the least. 

The following lists the elements (dancing steps) in the order of importance Aristotle gave them:

1.      Plot - Aristotle believed story (plot) the most important of the six parts; plot is a combination of incidents and is the purpose of the theatrics; the incidents arouse pity and fear in the spectators (e.g. seeing the suffering by some deed of horror), other times amusement or irony. In comedy, the bitterest enemies walk off good friends at the end of their conflict.

2.      Character - Second is character, "what makes us ascribe certain moral qualities to the agents (actors)" (1450a: 5, p. 231). Characters reveal the moral purpose of the agents, i.e. the sort of thing they seek or avoid (1450b: 5, p. 232). Moral purpose of the character is revealed by what they say or do on stage (1453: 19, p. 242)

3.      Theme - The third element is thought (i.e. theme), shown in all the characters say and do in proving or disproving some particular point, or enunciating some universal proposition.

4.      Dialog - Fourth, is the diction (dialog), the verbal and non-verbal exchanges among characters. This is resource to express character, plot, and theme.

5.      Rhythm - Rhythm can be fast or slow, repetitive or chaotic, gentle or harsh. I.e. The leader character can be a workaholic making everyone work at fast and harsh pace. The rhythm can slow down or build up to give emphasis. 

6.      Spectacle - Aristotle thought spectacle, though an attraction, to be the least artistic of all the parts, requiring extraneous aid (1450b: 15, p. 232 & p. 240); it is the stage appearance of the actor; what the costumier does; pity and fear may be aroused by spectacle, but better to arouse these emotions in the spectators by the plot, the incidents of the play (1453, 13, p. 239). 

Since Aristotle's day, spectacle has moved from sixth place to first. Two lovers of theatre sought to extend Aristotle's Poetics to contemporary time. These are Augusto Boal and Kenneth Burke. 

Boal  - Augusto Boal's (1979) first in his book Theater of the Oppressed, translated from the Spanish Teatro de Oprimido (1974a) is a conversation with Aristotle. Boal continues the dialog in a more recent collection of his talks and training approaches, in Games for actors and non-actors (1992) and his latest take, Rainbow of Desire, The Boal Method of Theatre and Therapy (1996). Boal’s theory is we are part spectator and part actor, and when we cross the divide between audience and stage, to join with the actors,  this makes us spect-actors. Like Burke, Boal takes a more Sociological and dialectical approach. The difference is that Boal embraces Marxism, where Burke is ever challenging Marx as too polemic. 

Boal (1979, 1992, 1995) has done pioneering, groundbreaking work interrelating capitalism and theatre. For Boal capitalism is constituted in a series of oppressions. And some actors have become seduced into passive roles in the theatrics of capitalism; they have become spectators to Aristotle's spectacle. Goffman keeps the Frame as a separation between actor and audience, between back and front stage. By contrast, Boal wants each spectator to mount the stage and become an actor, to be what he terms "spect-actor." 

  1. Spect-actor - Spectator moves on stage taking an actor's role with activity instead of passivity.

  2. Image Theatre - Spect-actors fashion body sculptures that can animate and interact with rhythm but without oral dialog.

  3. Invisible Theatre - Voices are heard, but the game is to take the theatre off stage into the streets. Actors seduce spectators into becoming spect-actors in order to reclaim critical discourse in the public sphere.

  4. Forum Theatre - This is practice in two areas: (1) using alternative influence tactics to overcome oppression, and (2) making the rules of the game and the Frame visible so that those rules and the Frame can be changes. 

In order to understand Theatre of the Oppressed, we have to keep in mind Boal's (1979: 122) objective: "To change the people -- 'spectators,' passive beings in the theatrical phenomenon -- into subjects, into actors, transformers of the dramatic action." Boal modifies Aristotle's Poetics in which the spectator merely "delegates power to the dramatic character so that the latter may act and think for hi" (p. 122). Rather, Boal follows Brecht, in proposing "a poetics in which the spectator delegates power to the character who thus acts in his place but the spectator reserves the right to think for himself" (p. 122). Boal' transforms the "catharsis" purpose of Aristotle's tragedy, which was to purge the spectator of a "tragic flaw" and in its place seeks to purge the society of its dreadful oppressions (tragic flaws). In Image Theatre, for example, there is an awakening of "critical consciousness" on the part of the spectator, who self-empowers to assume the protagonist role, changing from passive spectator to active spect-actor. Aristotle's Poetics focuses upon what Burke calls agency, the means by which theatre is used by the power elite can purge the public spectators (through catharsis) of any urge to rebel against the status quo. Rebelling becomes the tragic flaw to purge.  Theatre of the Oppressed reverses this, rendering the Superstructure of the status quo visible, and subject to spect-actor's critical consciousness. The empowered spect-actor is thus able to change the dramatic action, trying out solutions in acts of Image and Forum Theatre.  Theatre of the Oppressed uses theater as what Boal calls a rehearsal for revolution by liberated spectators, now spect-actors. Goffman (1974) would also term this a rehearsal. Burke would see Boal's use of theatre as agency, as a tool (technology) to accomplish the revolution. I would like to look at it as competing frames, those in power using theatre's agency to control the public, and those seeking revolution, using theatre to liberate a critical consciousness of hegemonic oppression. 

Burke - Burke is concerned with the language games of persuasion (rhetoric and poetics) played in more Sociological arenas, such as alternative approaches to dialectic. Burke's dramatism is built upon his re-theorizing of Aristotle's Poetics and Rhetoric books (350 BCE). The Pentad supplemented to Hexad has these six elements:

1.      Act – What was done? Names what took place, in thought or deed (sequence of actions). 

2.      Scene When or where it was done? Background of the act, the situation in which it occurred; physical, geographic and cultural environment or setting in which the act or action takes place. Acts can dramatically affect scene and vice versa; scenes can motivate or influence characters to take action (e.g. crisis on a battlefield versus reunion after give different motivation or a more comic frame).  

3.      Agent  - Who did it? What actor or kind of person (agent) performed the act? The Actor’s identity and role- played out in terms of the action. Non-human elements can be agents, e.g. the tornado tore up the town.  

4.      Agency – How it was done? The instruments (means) agents used; how characters initiate and accomplish action. Or characters can claim there are instruments, tools of those they report to in the chain of command.

5.      Purpose – Why? Intended effect or outcomes of the action. 

6.   Frame - Dialectic between "Frames of Acceptance"  and "Frames of Rejection."  The frame of situation leadership is narrow, down to the level of the small group, type of technology, the characteristics of followers (counter-agents), etc. For Burke, Frames are grander, more about the paradigm or grand narrative in which something happens. 

For applications of the Hexad to Situation Leadership there is a study guide available. There is also a study guide that aligns Burke and Aristotle, keeping Aristotle's Rhythm and Dialog (as two agencies), and also adds Frame, to fashion a Septet

Goffman - In chapter 5 of Frame Analysis Goffman (1974) develops his "Theatrical Frame." In this frame, the individual is transformed into a stage performer, behaving before an audience, whose role it is to not directly participate in the dramatic action enacted on stage (1974: 124-125). Frame is developed, as we described above on Epimenides' paradox. There are several other elements that Goffman develops in Frame Analysis such as event, strip, script, and keying. 

  1. Frame  - Epimenides' paradox; when is this real or an act? Frames are definitions of the situation, built up in accordance with principles of organization which govern social events (1974: 10). 

  2. Frameworks - Frameworks are schemata of interpretation of a kind that can be called primary (1974: 21). It renders an otherwise meaningless aspect of a scene into something meaningful (p. 21). During any one event or strip, actors are likely to apply several frameworks (1974: 25). There are also social groups; framework of frameworks, its belief system or cosmology (1974: 27).

  3. Event - Events are patterns wrought by codes. Frames are available in society to make sense out of events.

  4. Strip  - Strip refers to any arbitrary slice or cut from the stream of ongoing activity (1974: 10). A strip of fighting behavior can transform into a strip of play (1974: 41). 

  5. Script - Dramatic scriptings include scripts depicting personal experience to an audience, on medium of TV, publications, or the live stage (1974: 53). There are frame limits, the limits to which unscripted action can be transcribed to scriptings thereof (1974: 55-56). Scripts can be rehearsed and perfected in rehearsals, in simulations done in advance of a planned and scheduled live performance (p. 59-61). 

  6. Keying - Key is a set of conventions by which a given activity (within a meaningful primary framework) is transformed into something patterned by seen as something quite else in a process of transcription called keying (1974: 43-44). What's going on? "They are only playing, not fighting."

  7. Rules  - Rules are the governing purposes. All social frameworks involve rules, either in the actors' understanding of governing purpose, or in restraints in place affecting the event (1974: 24). Rules of the game, for example in hockey and tennis, provide limits on levels of aggression in combat like contests (1974: 56-57). 

  8. Impression Management  

Strips of doing (acting) involve a keying that an transform events between one or more frameworks, such as a brief switching say from playfulness to seriousness and aggressiveness. Social rituals, such as funerals and marriage ceremonies, are for Goffman, like "scripted productions, a whole mesh of acts plotted in advance, rehearsal of what is to unfold can occur, and an easy distinction can be drawn between rehearsal and 'real' performance" (1974: 58). 

Goffman takes a more metaphorical and more modernist approach. Goffman preserves the proscenium arch, exploring the switching and keying between play and combat, all the while keeping the actors on the stage separate from those in the event stream of daily life. For example Goffman (1974: 58) says, "in brief, a play keys life, a ceremony keys an event." Stage plays, for Goffman are simulations of ordinary life, whereas social rituals (ceremonies) constrict one deed to be stripped from the usual texture of events on one occasion. 

Also, unlike stage productions, ceremonials often provide for a clear division between professional officiators, who work at this sort of thing and can expect to perform it many times, and the officiated, who have the right and the duty to participate a few times at most (1974: 58). 

The performer, for example, in a scripted contest or social ritual (sports or marriage) assume character roles in ceremonials. The neophyte experience is oftentimes practiced and scripted in rehearsal to bring forth the desired performance before the spectators in live circumstances. Goffman keeps to his duality, the relation between practice (simulation) and the 'real thing' (live performance). 

Boal, by contrast, wants to blur the dualities, taking his Invisible Theatre actors out of the Theatre Frame and into subway or bus, staging a performance, where spectators can not tell if that the event is a simulation, the result of a rehearsal done in the lived experience. Boal's purpose is to entice the spectators to the drama to take roles as spect-actors, and then through their dialog and debate, become more conscious of a silent oppression, and their complicity in their own theatre of oppression. 

Aristotle's approach is not metaphoric, nor is Burke's. Goffman is concerned with what is going on in the mutual monitoring arena of face-to-face gatherings (1974: 8). Goffman stays metaphorical. For example in defining "strip" he adds that "a strip is not meant to reflect a natural division made by the subjects of inquiry or an analytical division made by students who inquire; it will be used only to refer to any raw batch of occurrences... that one wants to draw attention to as a starting point for analysis" (1974: 10). 

The Dances

Aristotle's dance step of Rhythm, at first glance, seems to be neglected in theories of Burke, Boal, and Goffman. I will assert that there is a Rhythm to the Event of Goffman, the Scene of Burke, and the exercises (Image, Invisible, & Forum) of Boal.  Boal's experiments in Image, Invisible, and Forum theatre are about rhythm. Goffman's "keying" concept of transcripting is based on an intended musical analogy (1974: 44). 

Burke's use of Frames is somewhat similar to what Goffman is calling Frameworks.  Both writers see their terms as schemata of interpretation, but Burke is more sociological and historical than Goffman.  Goffman (1974: 21) looks at how Frameworks affect scene: "indeed a primary framework is one that is seen as rendering what would otherwise be a meaningless aspect of the scene into something that is meaningful." Boal's interest is in seeing how the Framing process works, how it is that capitalism, for example, can sustain an oppression, just below conscious awareness.

Goffman (1974: 22) comes quite close to using a Burkean approach. Goffman, for example, makes a distinction between purposive and non-purposive frameworks, and in addition to purpose looks at willful and unconscious agency, and when actors guide or do not guide outcomes. "Motive and intent are involved, and their imputation helps select which of the various social frameworks of understanding is to be applied" (Goffman 1974:22). 

Boal uses a play frame, oscillating the roles of "Joker" and "Director" to prompt spect-actors to reflect upon the hegemonic games of power in their daily lives. Participants are invited to strike a pose of oppression, ten animate it, as spectators give their interpretations of the action, motives, and attitudes. 


Goffman takes a more psychological approach to Frame, basing his work in Bateson and the Epimenides' Paradox. Burke develops the more sociological approach, looking at how grand narratives stretch and adapt to compete with emergent frames. Burke views this as a dialectic process between Frames of Acceptance and Frames of Rejection. The old frame makes a net that its transvaluations will allow it to hang on for a while longer. Frames can experience a "cultural lag" where people facing situations located outside the attitudes of the frame (Burke, 1937: 40).  No frame is "broad enough to encompass all the necessary attitudes" (1937: 40). 

I view Frames as the silent supplement to Burke's Pentad, which would make it a Hexad. Frames struggle for survival and domination among competing frames. The Tragic and Comic Frames of Acceptance struggle with the Grotesque and Burlesque Frames of Rejection. The Hexad is the act within a scene, with agent, agency, and purpose, within the dialectic of competing frames. 


  1. Bateson, Gregory (1955). A Theory of Play and Fantasy. Psychiatric Research Reports, II.pp. 39-51. It is reprinted in Bateson's Steps to an Ecology of Mind (NY: Ballantine Books, 1972: 177-193). 

  2. Another version can be found in the Bible, Titus 1, verse 12-13: "Even one of their own prophets has said, 'Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.' This testimony is true." This led to a recurring debate over solutions to Epimenides' paradox. For example, was Titus engaged in the Liar's paradox, or making a real statement ; Some have tried to sort this out using algebraic formulae or by syllogism 



Aristotle (written 350BCE). Citing the (1954) translation Aristotle: Rhetoric and Poetics. Intro by Friedrich Solmsen; Rhetoric translated by W. Rhys Roberts; Poetics translated by Ingram Bywater. NY: The Modern Library (Random House). Poetics was written 350 BCE. Custom is to cite part and verse. I.e. Aristotle, 1450: 5, p. 23) refers to part 1450, verse 5, on p. 23 of the Solmsen (1954) book.  There is also an on line version translated by S. H. Butcher 

Burke, Kenneth (1937). Attitudes Toward History. Las Altos, CA: Hermes Publications. 

Burke, Kenneth (1945). A Grammar of Motives. Berkeley and LA, CA: university of California Press. 

Burke, Kenneth (1972). Dramatism and Development. Barre, MASS: Clark University Press with Barre Publishers. 

Goffman, Erving (1959) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor Books (Doubleday & Company, Inc.). 

Goffman, Erving (1974) Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. NY: Harper & Rop, Publishers (Harper Colophon Books). 

Lyotard, Jean-Francois (1979/1984). The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Translation from the French by Geoff Bennington & Brian Massumi; Foreword by Fredric Jameson. Theory and History of Literature, Volume 10. Minneapolis: Minn: University of Minnesota Press. 

Prior, A. N. (1958). "Epimenides the Cretan." Journal of Symbolic Logic 23, 261-266.

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