Plato And Isocrates Rhetorical Analysis

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The 5th century BCE rhetorical rivalry between Plato and Isocrates is widely-known among students of rhetoric; however, the average citizen has never even heard the name of one of these competitors: Isocrates. Instead, Plato alone is remembered as the sole contributor to the field of rhetorical theory during this time. Had Plato single-handedly forwarded the cause of rhetoric during the momentous transition from Socrates and the Sophists to Aristotle’s systemization of the field, this gap would not be noteworthy. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. Isocrates played a significant role in not only continuing rhetoric as a vital content area in Greek paideia but influencing how rhetoric was taught. In fact, his philosophical and pedagogical…show more content…
In his Phaedrus, Plato writes of Socrates personifying Lady Rhetoric who says that she “never required anyone to be ignorant of the truth when he learnes to speak, but – if my counsel means something – to master the truth and then take me up” (260d). A bit later in the drama, Socrates further explains the need for attaining truth before creating rhetoric by saying that “if one intends to deceive someone else and not be deceived himself, he must discern accurately the similarities and dissimilarities of things” (262a). Ultimately, one must acquire truth because, according to Socrates in Plato’s Gorgias, “the truth is never refuted” (473b). Both Isocrates and Plato seemed to include their ideologies of truth and knowledge within their writings partially to oppose the sophists’ seeming lack of concern for truth; however, Isocrates may have veered toward rhetoric constituting knowledge due to his background as a logographer while Plato felt irrefutable knowledge had to precede rhetoric which may have been connected to his interest in the more exact field of mathematics (Benoit

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