Sunday, November 27, 2016

Phaedrus by Plato

Alejandra Colon
Rhetoric 103A 
GSI: Jerilyn Sambrooke 
Figurative Analysis

Phaedrus by Plato

  Socrates and Phaedrus have a dialogue in Phaedrus, which brings forward Plato’s philosophy of love. In that dialogue, they have a disagreement on Lysias’s speech in which Phaedrus supports, while Socrates does not, and believes a better speech could have been written by him. Lysias's speech is about a "foolish paradox", which states the non-lover should be accepted instead of the lover. Furthermore, through Socrates and Phaedrus's dialogue, love and rhetoric are brought up through various figures. One of the figures vital to Socrates's argument is the soul, which has many parts to it, and used as a metaphor. Specifically, these parts are showcased in Socrates's second dialogue when bringing forward love and madness, divine madness”.  

  In Phaedrus, the soul is divided based on whether one is a mortal or an immortal creature. Within these creatures, souls can be perfect or imperfect. To have a perfect soul means that the soul “soars upward, and orders the whole world”. Whereas, one with an imperfect soul looses “her wings and drooping in her flight at last settles on the solid ground”. Therefore, a human contains an imperfect soul because of its power, and “composition of soul and body”. 

The soul has a wing, which brings one closer to the divine, and pulls creatures into “the habitation of the gods”. More specifically, divine is “beauty, wisdom, goodness”. Through this divine, the soul is nourished and allows growth to occur. However, it can also go into darkness if tempted by “evil and foulness”. If the soul is not in the right spot within “the revolution of the spheres, it can never reach its full potential. By transforming into its full potential, the soul can have true knowledge” that is the colourless, formless, intangible essence, visible only to mind, the pilot of the soul” which “beholds justice, and temperance, and knowledge absolute”.

  When Plato brings up souls in Socrates's dialogue, it can be seen as a metaphor that allows rhetoric to emerge. In this, rhetoric has a perfect and imperfect form. Those with perfect form, are able to take control of the world, and through their discourse are able to take control of the argument. If one does not train well in rhetoric, than one is not able to reach their full potential, similar to a soul. However, if trained properly, one can hold absolute knowledge. Without having knowledge, and an understanding of one's audience, one will never be able to fully grasp rhetoric for "even in rhetoric an element of truth is required". Distinctly, Socrates is able to use rhetoric to fully showcase his argument because of his understanding in the power of using figures in discourse. It is through rhetoric that one is able to win an argument, which is exactly what Socrates accomplishes in Phaedrus. Socrates is able to understand the many parts of rhetoric, and uses this in his discourse. 

       The soul is a figure that allows Socrates's understanding of rhetoric to be displayed in Phaedrus. Therefore, when Socrates describes the soul in his second dialogue, and the many parts to it, it allows the soul to become a figure that strengthens Socrates's argument in his disagreement with Lysias’s speech. While simultaneously, strengthen the art of rhetoric through his discourse, and proving that Socrates can in fact make a better speech than Lysias. In Socrates words, “until in like manner he is able to discern the nature of the soul, and discover the different modes of discourse which are adapted to different natures, and to arrange and dispose them in such a way that the simple form of speech may be addressed to the simpler nature, and the complex and composite to the more complex nature…he will be unable to handle arguments according to rules of art…either for the purpose of teaching or persuading; such is the view which is implied in the whole preceding argument”.

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