In his essay The Loss of the Creature, Walker Percy addresses the importance of adopting a more critical view on the reality that surrounds us. According to the author, we live in an artificial reality that is highly mediated and that we usually have very little influence on. Walker Percy in general builds his arguments well, conveys them clearly and persuasively. However, perhaps one of the points that the author manages to prove most effectively is his claim about sovereignty of an individual in modern world is very limited and very often things that are unauthentic hide under the veil of authenticity. More specifically, he uses a number of techniques, including anecdotes, emotional and logical appeals and inductive reasoning in order to support his claim and make his argument seem probable to the audience.
Walker Percy asserts his claim mainly through the use of the three following types of appeals – emotional appeal, ethical appeal and logical appeal. Perhaps the most frequent is the author’s use of logical appeals, which is not surprising, given the specificity of the topic discussed. For instance, in his essay Percy argues that because of their constant exposure to the commonly accepted biological classifications, biology students cannot adopt a new perspective that is needed in terms of breaking the shackles of the mediated reality. He uses an example of the dogfish to demonstrate the logic behind his argument. In addition to this, the author widely incorporates emotional and ethical appeals in her article. Walker Percy tries to evoke in the audience the feeling of sympathy to the people who suffer from the inability to think for themselves and to enjoy the authenticity of the surrounding reality. Apart from this, there is an implicitly embedded element of the ethical appeal in the article. It is possible to read between the lines that the author criticizes the so called experts that define the reality in the way that is more convenient for them. Namely, the author argues that ‘there is a division between expert and layman, between planner and consumer, in which experts and planners take special measures to teach and edify the consumer’ (Percy 309). He thus implicitly argues that every individual has the right to create his or her won understanding of the surrounding world. It is important to note that the author does not use deception or any other unacceptable, from the ethical point of view, technique.
Apart from the three types of appeals, the author widely incorporates the use of anecdotes in his article. This makes his argumentation much more effective given that it analyzes the issue on the ‘micro-level’. While arguing that modern society faces the problem when reality is just the illusion of reality might not be affective in terms of persuading the audience, analyzing the issue on the example of the commercialization of the Great Canyon or the Statue of Liberty makes the situation familiar to the audience and thus persuades it better. With his example of the Great Canyon, the author gives a very full understanding of the difference between the authenticity and something that hides under the veil of authenticity.
The logic that Percy uses in his article is inductive. In the very beginning of the article he uses a number of examples that supply strong evidence that leads to the conclusion that is more abstract. The author gives numerous examples of the society’s perception of historical places, poetry, science and cinematography to bring the audience to the idea that the thing that an individual ‘consumes’ is usually twice lost. First, its sovereignty is lost, and, secondly, it is loses its value as a result of theory (Percy 310). The use of this type of reasoning is effective in this particular situation because the author lacks the evidence needed for the use of the deductive type of reasoning.
It is important to note, however, that the author also makes some mistakes when proving support for his argument. Perhaps one of the weakest points of the article is the fact that that author does not consider the potential counterarguments. To give some examples, Percy in his essay argues that one should search for other approaches that are initially very different from those that have been established before him or her. However, it seems to me that this is the ‘circle’ argument. Even if a person finds new definitions of something, these definitions will most likely be included to the generally accepted classifications that will reluctantly be studied by the following generations of students, such as the example of the classifications of different species offered by the author. This counterargument is very obvious, and the author would have been much more effective in proving his point if he had addressed this counterargument and managed to refute it.
Thus, Percy’s analysis incorporates the emotional, logical and ethical appeals effectively, the evidence that the author gives is often not strong enough to reassure the audience of the credibility of information provided. Apart from this, the author provides a number of anecdotes that enrich his argumentation and gives the audience and opportunity to observe the issue on the ‘micro-level’. The type of reasoning that the author uses in his essay is inductive, thus, the conclusion that he draws seems probable to the audience. However, Walker Percy does not consider counterarguments, which makes the arguments in her article vulnerable to criticism.