- Paperback: 216 pages
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press; Reprint edition (April 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226042413
- ISBN-13: 978-0226042411
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #840,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Rhetoric of Morality and Philosophy: Plato's Gorgias and Phaedrus Reprint Edition
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From the Back Cover
The distinguished classicist Seth Benardete here interprets and, for the first time, pairs two important Platonic dialogues, the Gorgias and the Phaedrus. In linking these dialogues, he places Socrates' notions of rhetoric in a new light and illuminates the way in which Plato gives morality and eros a place in the human soul.
About the Author
Seth Benardete (1930–2001) was a classicist and philosopher who taught at New York University and the New School. He is the author of many books, including The Tragedy and Comedy of Life: Plato’s Philebus, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
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He is remarkable in showing the link between each of the interlocutors, or how each necessarily takes his bearings from experience, not knowledge. He thus shows that experience ultimately shapes their understanding of what knowledge is. Thus, the rhetorician who as rhetorician believes that he possess an art of persuasion is shown to have only persuaded himself that this is so: Behind Gorgias' assumption that knowledge issues in a state of being (so that one is what one knows) stands Callicles' assertion that man has no nature or is shaped by the vagaries of experience.
If knowledge belongs to the soul and experience to the body, then the presentation of the soul belonging to rhetoric is necessarily false, as it is really the body masquerading as the soul. Rhetoric and morality are thus shown to be part of tragedy, for all three subscribe to the tragic formula _pathei mathos_). Justice, Benardete suggests, is not actually known via some causal analysis, but is rather retroactivelly determined in light of one's experience of injustice (in light of one's certain moral indignation). Here only sense perception or the experiences of pain, for instance, guides one's understanding of what justice/injustice is. Likewise, the just man who would punish the unjust man with the intention of removing his injustice only submits the latter to the experience of pain, not knowledge of what constitutes justice/injustice. The rhetoric of morality is but an attempt to simply satisfy one's pleasure in punishing while dressing it up in the image of morality/rationality.