Plato and Rhetoric427-346 BC (81yrs.) • Life • son of wealthy & influential Athenian parents • began his philosophical career as a student of Socrates • when Socrates died, Plato traveled to Egypt and Italy, studied with students of Pythagoras, and spent several years advising the ruling family of Syracuse. • Eventually, returned to Athens & established his own school of philosophy at the Academy.
Plato • For students, Plato tried to pass on the heritage of a Socratic style of thinking • The written dialogues on which his enduring reputation rests also serve both of these aims. • Primary Focus: Attack Sophists
Plato on Rhetoric • Three works on Rhetoric: • The Apology (we’re not reading) • The Gorgias--attack on Sophistic practice of rhetoric • The Phaedrus--development of a true rhetoric
The Gorgias (385 BC) • An 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 GorgiasAttacking Rhetoric • Three rounds of speeches • First round: Gorgias and Socrates • Rhetoric’s nature and uses • Definition--is rhetoric a true art? • Second round: Polus and Socrates • Rhetoric is just a knack for creating persuasive speeches that lack foundation in justice/truth • Third round: Challicles and Socrates • Pursuit of power without knowledge of justice perpetuates injustice
The GorgiasContinued • 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? • Theme • The basis of justice • Doxa (mere public opinion) vs Episteme (true knowledge)
Socrates/Plato & GorgiasRound 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 & GorgiasRound 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.
Socrates/Plato & PolusRound Two • Socrates vs Polus (the colt) • Polus: “Rhetoric is the greatest power in the country.” • Plato: Comparisons • The arts vs sham arts
Socrates/Plato & PolusRound Two: True and Sham Arts • The Arts of Health • Body Soul • Maintain: gymnastics legislation • Restore: medicine justice • The Sham Arts of Health • BodySoul • Maintain: make-up sophistic • Restore: cookery rhetoric
Socrates/Plato & CalliclesRound Three • Callicles: Natural Justice or the rule of the intelligent over the baser. • Machiavellian approach to power--gained without pursuit of or attention to justice.
Major Claims in Gorgias • Sophistic rhetoric is misleading--designed to convince audience they’re dealing with truth when they’re really perpetuating opinion • Rejection of transient notion of truth (time, justice and juries) • rhetoric seeks persuasion while philosophy seeks truth
The Phaedrus (367 BC) • Twenty years after the Gorgias • deals with the "nature (phusis)" of the soul” • Three Major Parts separated by interludes
The PhaedrusContinued • Content: Socrates in conversation with a young sophist student • Intellectually and physically attractive • Love: “divine madness” a “trance entered by poets” • The Soul has three parts
The PhaedrusContinued • A techne of rhetoric • A true or just rhetoric
Phaedrus Con • Part One: • The soulless speeches: Lysias' speech and Socrates' 1st speech • The definition of love • Its effects on the beloved
PhaedrusCon • Part Two: • Socrates' Second Speech: The speech on the soul • nature of the soul and behavior "in heaven” • 1.1. The soul as principle and the image of the winged chariot • 1.2. Divine souls and their journey toward "what really is” • 1.3. Human souls and their wandering within bodies
Part Two con • Socrates' Second Speech: The speech on the soul • idea of beauty and its effects on embodied human souls • 2.1. Role of "ideas" in human life and privilege of beauty • 2.2. Effects of beauty on man's soul • 2.3. Consequences depending on which god the soul followed
Part Two con • Socrates' Second Speech: The speech on the soul • behavior of loving and loved souls here on earth • 3.1. Behavior of the lover • 3.2. Behavior of the loved one • 3.3. Styles of life that may result and conclusion regarding Lysias
The Phaedrus & the Soul • The three parts (Charioteer) • Loves wisdom • Loves nobility and honor • Loves appetite or lusts
Phaedrus Part Three • Socrates' Third Speech: Dialogue on Rhetoric • From false rhetoric to true dialectic • The dialectician and the rhetorician • From false dialectic to true rhetoric
The Phaedrus & Rhetoric • Rhetoric therefore is the art of influencing souls • Psychagogia “leading souls” • Know “the truth” first • Adapting to audience’s soul is the art of rhetoric--soul of love, soul of honor, soul of lust • Justice is realized when the lower submits to lover of wisdom.
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)