In Ursula Franklin's essay "Science and the Notion of the Commons," what is the effect of the parallelism in the nineteenth paragraph, which begins, "There is a critical juncture . . ."?

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Ursula Franklin, in her essay “Science and the Notion of the Commons,” sometimes uses the rhetorical technique of parallelism.  Parallelism is especially evident in the nineteenth paragraph of the essay (the paragraph that begins “There is a critical juncture”). Examples of parallelism in that paragraph include the following:

  • In the first sentence of the paragraph, Franklin refers to “the planned and the unplanned, the programmed and the unplanable.” The juxtaposed parallel phrases used here imply that Franklin has a comprehensive outlook – that she has considered various aspects of the issue at hand and will try to deal with the complexities of that issue.
  • Later Franklin worries about a diminishment of space, “be it in the soundscape, in the landscape, and in the mindscape.” Once again, the parallelism implies the breadth of Franklin’s concerns and the depth of her knowledge. She presents herself as the opposite of narrow-mind. Her concerns are both very concrete (for example, the landscape) and somewhat abstract (the soundscape and mindscape). She is interested in both the external and the internal, in what is available to the senses (the soundscape, available to hearing; the landscape, available to sight) and in what is available to thought (the mindscape, which in turn is shaped by the soundscape and landscape).
  • Later, Franklin expresses her concern with “our sanity, not only individually but collectively.” Once more the parallelism of her phrasing implies the breadth of her vision. She worries not simply about herself but about everyone, not simply about isolated persons but about society as a whole.  In this example of parallelism, as in most others, the phrasing helps emphasize each of the key terms. The phrasing also suggests a logical, rational approach to the subject and the logical, rational nature of the person using the phrasing.  Parallel phrasing is ordered phrasing and suggests an orderly, disciplined, non-chaotic way of thinking.
  • Often, later in the paragraph, Franklin uses parallel phrases not so much to make logical distinctions as to achieve rhetorical emphasis, as when she writes “as a community, as a people” or when she writes “unnoticed, uncommented on.” Here the phrasing seems designed to make absolutely sure that her readers understand her points and the importance of those points.
  • Parallelism seems crucial to Franklin's thinking and her phrasing in this paragraph, and thus it is not surprising when she uses another example by writing,

Allowing openness to the unplanable, to the unprogrammed, is the core of strength of silence. [Emphasis added]