Writing for GrowthReferential Writing By Arthur F. Seamans Pages. 43-44
Referential Writing Concerns Itself with Facts (with Data) In such writing the author deliberately avoids expressing his or her emotions • Seamans says that typically referential writing belongs to the reporter, the investigator and the scientist. • Those who use self-expression in referential writing, the province of factual writing, may do so because of insufficient occasion for self-expression. • Those who have been ignored “may attempt to exhort in referential writing.”
In other words referential writing speaks of that which is demonstrable true. “Arbitrarily one limits oneself to what is verifiable to the senses, and rules out the use of emotion, intuition, and complex ratiocination or tradition as stepping stone to truth.” “Pilate saith unto him, ‘What is truth?’” (John 18:38 KJV)
The Assumption of Knowable Truth • One aspect of Dr. Seaman’s description here is his assumption that there is an abstract knowable truth. • His view is based on the classical Socratic idea: • “The good person’s duty was to not win arguments but to peruse the higher truth” (10). • Notice however that the more contemporary text Writing Arguments is not so certain about this. • “If we accept this pluralistic view of the world do we then endorse. . .radical relativism…or do we doggedly pursue some modern equivalent of Socrates’ truth?. . .we admit to a view of truth that is more tentative, cautious, and conflicted than his”(11).
The Referential Writer seeks to uncover, order, identity and explain what the verifiable facts are. • The basic or primary source is the world of sense experience. • A secondary source, not entirely reliable, but important is the witness of those who are authorities in their field because of the close association with observable facts.
The establishment of truth in as disinterested a fashion as possible is not only a useful pursuit, but a glorious one. The referential writer hopefully will develop a passion for accuracy and fairness. • A liberal arts education emphasizes the training of sensibilities of thinking students. A characteristic of educated people should be a “hatred of cant and sloppy thinking.”
Two Final Qualities: Thoughtfulness and Clarity • Gather enough data to give a true general statement • But be as precise in the use of language so that clarity is achieved.