This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
prepared by dr. bonnie lenore kyburz source: Rhetoric: Concepts, Definitions, Boundaries. William A. Covino (U ILL, Chicago)
David A. Jolliffe (DePaul U)
Plato (c. 429 - 347 BCE) & "truth" in Phaedrus
screens P's philosophical rhetoric (pref to "rhetoric" as taught by the Sophists) method: dialogue. represents give-and-take of convo btwn 2 characters convo offers multiple viewpoints w/out privileging any one, authorial perspective this interplay creates a productive kind of ambiguity (like good literature) the convo is referred to as "dialectic," "a method of inquiry" guided by ?'s and answers, definitions and distinctions that = "philosophical truth" supposedly, (ideally) participants in dialectic do not begin w/ predetermined positions, but in Phaedrus, Socrates has a perspective in mind, and he leads Phaedrus to it. Socrates' moves to persuade Phaedrus are similar to the distasteful moves made by rhetors Socrates does not admire (ornamental, flowery ... mere flattery) alternatively, the Socratic method -- reveals by doing, via inquiry-driven dialectic
P was a "follower" or student of Socrates (469-399 BCE). P saw Socratic dialectic as more valuable than the "mere cookery" or the "false art" of rhetoric that was being taught -- it offers a "pleasant taste rather than good health" and in this way "offers a crowd what they enjoy hearing rather than what is good for them." P saw this taught rhetoric as a "knack" rather than a talent (Covino
& Jolliffe 74).
The Sophists were the teachers ...
the sophists. sophos = knowledge, wisdom
"The first sophists were teachers who traveled in classical Greece teaching a number of different subjects" (in Plato's
Gorgias, prior to Phaedrus, we see P's Socrates suggest that "the practice of rhetoric does not require any paritcular body of knowledge and does not aim at the good, [thus] it is a false art or "knack" rather than a true art") [...] They are
especially famous -- or infamous -- for relativistic views ["radically contingent" (Kent)] of truth and demonstrations of oratorical dexterity; such demonstrations were especially popular as entertainments and as indications of the skills required of citizens in newly emerging democracies" (Covino & Jolliffe
second sophistic movement
developed in 1st C. CE "highly stylized ceremonial" speeches rhetoric as "epistemic," or generative rather than merely representative of knowledge (it creates knowledge). P worried how this concept troubled a specific view of "stable philosophical truth," and he criticized them for this challenge P called this epistemic rhetoric a kind of "image-making art, ... not divine, but human ... the juggling part of productive activity" P sees sophists as jugglers of truth, manipulative (the early car salesperson) P CLEARLY worried the ways in which the sophists could enchant "the youth of today" with their tricks language as "Protean" (emergence!)
(Covino & Jolliffe 84)
P's philosophical rhetoric
Sophistic "protean" rhetoric
natural talent divinity inspired privileged ethical -- toward a stable notion of "the good" kairotic essentials determined by God-like philosophical wanderings, soarings ...
(concerns for essentialisms carried thru the centuries ... 20th C. rhetorical theory & postmodern thought moved ...)
teachable (dissoi logoi) phronesis (practical wisdom) emergent (like learning) kairotic contingent "potentially mesmerizing" understood limitations of human knowledge (Protagoras (c. 481-411
BCE) "Of all things the measure is man ...") (Covino & Jolliffe 84); thus, given our flawed human nature, knowledge was relative, "radically contingent")
prevailing concepts & binaries
privileged, stable philosophical truth knowledge as stable, essential the good dialectic knowledge as earned through philosophical divinity, arrived at by the man who knows good radically contingent, skills driven performances "in the moment" knowledge and generated by human observation, experience, and art the probable poetics (also dialectic; for the sophists, the split was not so very neat) knowledge as always already emerging, from a variety of circumstances