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Plato and Rhetoric 427-346 BC (81yrs.) • Life • Impetus: Attack Sophists

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Plato and Rhetoric 427-346 BC (81yrs.) • Life • Impetus: Attack Sophists
Plato and Rhetoric
427-346 BC (81yrs.)
• Life
– Wealthy traveling Athenian
– Alfred North Whitehead ”footnotes”
– Philosopher of forms, “idealism”
• Impetus: Attack Sophists
• May have coined the word “Rhetoric”
Plato
• Perfect Form
Plato Close-up
Plato on Rhetoric
• Three works on Rhetoric:
-The Apology
-The Gorgias
-The Phaedrus
The Apology (399 BC)
• After the fact version of Socrates’ trial
• Socrates is charged with
– Atheism
– Corruption of youth
• Believes truth is
– self evident and personal
– refuses to use ad hominem argument and appeals to
pathos as the sophists do
– Kennedy (pp. 44-45) Click here for pages.
Socrates
• Truth
Socrates
• The Hemlock
The Gorgias (385 BC)
• Early work
• Major ideas implied or stated
– Dialectic nature of truth “remembered” in
dialogue among experts
– Rhetoric is pre-selected communication in
order to defend opinions
The Gorgias
Attacking Rhetoric
• Three rounds of speeches
– First Gorgias and Socrates
– Second Polus and Socrates
– Third Challicles and Socrates
The Gorgias
Continued
• Topics
– What is the nature of rhetoric?
– Does rhetoric by its very nature tend to mislead?
– What happens to a society when persuasion is a basis for law and
justice? (Herrick, p. 54)
• Theme
– The basis of justice
– Doxa (mere public opinion) vs Episteme (true
knowledge)
Socrates/Plato and Gorgias
Round One
• Socrates/Plato: What is the art or techne
(knowledge) rhetoric offers? (a question)
• Gorgias: Rhetoric is concerned with words,
persuasive words.
• Socrates/Plato: Not a definition, because all
disciplines use persuasion.
• Episteme (true knowledge) vs pistis (mere
opinion.
Socrates/Plato and Gorgias
Round One Continued
• Justice involves episteme. Justice is a lofty,
time consuming topic. Public is ignorant.
– The rhetorician, then, is not a teacher of law
courts and other public gatherings as to what is
right or wrong, but merely a creator of beliefs;
for evidently he could never instruct so large a
gathering in so short a time (445) (Herrick, p.
56).
Socrates/Plato and Polus
Round Two
• Socrates vs Polus (the colt)
• Polus: “Rhetoric is the greatest power in
the country.”
• Plato: Comparisons
– The arts vs sham arts
Socrates/Plato and Polus
Round Two: True and Sham Arts
• The Arts of Health
•
Body
– Maintain:
gymnastics
– Restore:
medicine
• The Sham Arts of Health
•
– Maintain:
– Restore:
Soul
legislation
justice
Body
Soul
make-up
cookery
sophistic
rhetoric
Socrates/Plato and Callicles
Round Three
• Callicles: Natural Justice or the rule of the
intelligent over the baser.
• Machiavellian
• A wann’a be? A Yuppie? A Republican? (the
ladder of success--”pull it up after you”)
Reflections on the Gorgias
• Rhetoric merely a means to justice: A
Representational Model of Communication
• Plato rejects sophists arguments and uses
them: probabilities, ridicule (Albert
Einstein)
• Revenge on Callicles
• Rejection of transient notion of truth (time,
justice and juries)
The Phaedrus (367 BC)
•
•
•
•
Twenty years after the Gorgias
An older, mellower Plato
Gorgias “anger,” Phaedras “love”
Gorgias “in the name of morality reject
rhetoric”Romilly, p. 71
The Phaedrus (continued)
• Content: A conversation with a young
sophist student
• Intellectually and physically attractive
• Love: “divine madness” a “trance entered
by poets”
• The Soul has three parts
The Phaedrus and the Soul
• The three parts (Charioteer)
• 1. Loves wisdom
2. Loves nobility and honor
3. Loves appetite or lusts
• Richard Weaver--Rhetoric as:
– Rape, Seduction, or Love
The Phaedrus and Rhetoric
•
•
•
•
Rhetoric therefore is the art of influencing souls
Psychagogia “leading souls”
Know “the truth” first, then
Adapting to audience’s soul is the art of rhetoric-soul of love, soul of honor, soul of lust
• Is “soul talk” the same as “understanding” or
“meeting of meaning?”
• Justice is realized when the lower submits to lover
of wisdom. (Micah 6:8—justly, love mercy, walk humbly)
The Phaedrus (Comments/Criticisms)
• The relationship of rhetoric to truth
– discover? or propagate? (mere advocacy)
• Create the truth?
• Rhetoric and Dialectic both can produce
evil
• Listen for soul--Remembering?
• Is this tradition or God?
The Phaedrus (Comments/Criticisms)
• Kennedy p. 58 “Plato’s is an impractical rhetoric,
. . . How can we know everyone's soul?
• Yet, we can know our soul “that which is most
personal is also most general”
• Plato starts with ontology or being, thus soul talk
is remembering or recalling (reincarnation)
• Comparing the Gorgias and the Phaedrus
(overhead)
• Are our minds like his? Alfred North Whitehead
The Phaedrus (Comments/Criticisms)
•
•
•
•
Do you believe in true love?
Do you know Clinton is lying?
Others?
How can you know what you have never
experienced? Remembering?
• Comparing Gorgias to Phaedrus (click here)
Two Language Realities
•
•
•
•
Sophists
Experiential
The Words
Clinton
Plato
Reflectionism
Ideas
Presidential
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