Prof. David Seitz
Eng 7120--Journal Entry #2
21 Jan. 2013
[Rhetoric]...seems to be a pursuit that is not a matter of art, but showing a shrewd, gallant spirit which has a natural bent for clever dealing with mankind, and I sum up its subsance in the name of flattery" (Plato 97). In Plato's dialogue, Socrates' efforts to define and criticize the nature and purposes of rhetoric are evident in the quote mentioned above.
When describing rhetoric, Socrates goes on to explain that rhetoric "is not an art but habitude or knack" (97). It appears as though Socrates understands rhetoric as something that is uncanny or "supernatural" (93), --that is, rhetoric doesn't require true knowledge on a specific subject, but rather that it is important for the rhetorician to appear to be knowledgable on that specific subject or topic (95). In other words, the rhetorician simply has to appear knowledgable in an area where the audience is not so knowledgable. The rhetorician merely has to be knowledgable on how to convice her audience to believe that she is knowledgable. She wants to convince her audience to believe that she is advocationg or saying what is right or true.
To me this sounds like pure trickery! I guess this also extends into another theme discussed in the Plato's dialogue--good vs. bad or evil rhetoric. Is the rhetorician trying to convince her audience based on her own self-interest, or what Socrates would call "producing a kind of gratificationor pleasure" (97) for the rhetorician? Or, is the rhetorician trying to convince her audince to believe or do something purely for their own good? There seems to be some gray areas here in my opinion. I don't know if I missed a discussion about this in the dialouge, but what if the rhetorician is trying to convince her audience to believe something for the good of all parties involved. I am sure tha this would be considered a form of good rhetoric, but as Socrates would argue, this still doesn't make...