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date: 22 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines Plato’s arguments against sophistic rhetoric in the Gorgias and Phaedrus and his arguments in defense of the true, philosophically useful, psychagogic art of rhetoric put forth in the Phaedrus. The Gorgias rejects sophistic rhetoric because it is harmful to the political audience at which it is aimed. The Phaedrus rejects sophistic rhetoric because it is incapable of persuasion, the ostensible goal of the art. The psychagogic rhetoric in the Phaedrus is based on the speaker’s knowledge of both his subject matter and the receptive capacities of his audience. The chapter concludes by considering Plato’s own rhetorical practice in politics and philosophy, both in the political arrangements of the Republic and Laws and in the manner in which his early and middle dialogues seek to persuade nonphilosophical readers to adopt philosophical values.

Keywords: Plato, art of rhetoric, sophistic rhetoric, persuasion, politics, philosophy, psychagogic, Gorgias, Phaedrus, Republic

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