Kinney: “Classifying Heuristics”

Kinney, James. “Classifying Heuristics.” College Composition and Communication. 30.4 (1979). 351-356. Print.

Focusing on invention, Kinney argues for an expanded definition of heuristic. Dissatisfied with definitions that restrict invention heuristics to linear, left-brain, rationalistic thinking, Kinney expands the inventive framework for heuristics to include empiricism and intuitionism in addition to rationalism: “These three ways provide us with a set of exhaustive, mutually exclusive classes for all possible heuristic procedures” (352). Kinney unpacks the history and usage of each of the heuristics, noting especially that his argument is not to malign rational approaches to invention but to call for, “balance in our heuristics and a defense of intuitionism in the face of sustained current attack” (354). Conclusion: “Teaching students that writing depends solely upon rational modes of thought limits them to one half their potential as writers. Teaching rational heuristics while excluding empirical and intuitive ones imposes that limit” (355).


Invention, heuristic, empiricism, rationalism, intuition, pedagogy

Bibliographic notes

Words: ~3,500

Pages: 5

References: 9

Affiliation: Virginia Commonwealth


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