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Dialectic And The Purpose Of Rhetoric In Platos Phaedrus

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Chapter Summary

When Plato argues in the Phaedrus that if rhetoric is to attain the status of techne, it must include dialectic, the question arises what the conjunction of rhetoric and dialectic means, especially given Plato's well-known opposition to rhetoric. This chapter considers why Socrates puts forward an account of rhetoric at all and how the account of rhetoric in the Phaedrus differs from that in the Gorgias. It argues that Plato introduces dialectic into rhetoric because dialectic provides the material for arguments, and speeches must have arguments if they are to persuade. The chapter also considers the differences between rhetoric and philosophy in the light of Plato's arguments on dialectic in the Phaedrus. A rhetorical art that is limited to manipulating beliefs which an audience already holds is inherently limited in the persuasive outcomes it can attain, and quite narrowly so.

Keywords: dialectical philosophy; Plato's Phaedrus; rhetorical art; Socrates



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