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Plato vs Isocrates

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Plato vs Isocrates
Plato encouraged in his writings that the view that sophists were concerned with was “the manipulative aspects of how humans acquire knowledge.” (Lecture) Sophists believed that only provisional or probable knowledge was available to humans but both Plato and Isocrates did not agree with a lot of what the Sophists had to say. They both believed in wisdom and having a connection with rhetoric but vary in defining wisdom in itself. Wisdom for Socrates and Plato is having an understanding of speech, knowledge of truth and being able to question the speaker in order to seek and reveal truth. Isocrates defined wisdom as having a sense of integrity and character along with the ambition and ability to speak well with others.

Socrates said, “He who is to be a competent rhetorician need to have nothing at all to do, they say, with truth in considering things which are just or good […] whether by nature or by education.” (164) This statement shows that Socrates did believe that one who speaks must speak of truth, whether the speaker learned truth through education or through life experiences does not matter. Socrates wanted absolute truth and knowledge within speech and not all people speak in that way. He is claiming that wisdom is being able to recognize what is truth and not manipulation or flattery of words. That is what makes one wise: being able to see through persuasive and manipulative wording and language to find ultimate truth.

Socrates advises Phaedrus that someone that is wise needs certain things when interacting and speaking with others. Socrates’ said “[that] the student of rhetoric must, accordingly, acquire a proper knowledge […] and then be able to follow them accurately with these senses when he sees them in the practical affairs of life.”(163) This quote explains precisely how powerful language can be, so one must be able to recognize the truth in which people speak. Flattery and cookery of words can be used to make speech seem just



Cited: • Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzberg. The Rhetorical Tradition : Readings from Classical Times to the Present. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/Saint Martin 's, 2000. • Dickinson, Greg E. Lecture. Colorado State University, Fort Collins. 16 Sept. 2008.

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