Plato's rhetorical art: an interpretive commentary and critique of the "Gorgias" and "Phaedrus"
This dissertation is an examination of Plato's notion of rhetorical art ((tau)(epsilon)(chi)(nu)(eta)) as developed from remarks in the Gorgias and Phaedrus. The thesis of this dissertation is that rhetorical art is a (tau)(epsilon)(chi)(nu)(eta) which is guided by and which seeks to elicit a form of man. This elicitation is no mere verbal embodiment of a formula in the memory of an interlocutor, but rather that which is to be elicited is a characteristic human power implicit within man. The demonstration of this thesis requires that four tasks be accomplished First, it is necessary that Plato's notion of art be characterized and distinguished from the general sense of (tau)(epsilon)(chi)(nu)(eta) in use at the time of Plato's writing. A brief survey of extant Greek works, guided by Liddell and Scott's etymological lexicon('1) provides a statement of this general sense of (tau)(epsilon)(chi)(nu)(eta) from which Plato's more specialized notion emerges. Plato's more specialized sense is addressed by treatment of two characterizations of his theory of (tau)(epsilon)(chi)(nu)(eta): John Wild's in Plato's Theory of Man('2) and Edward G. Ballard's in Socratic Ignorance.('3) The second task is to demonstrate that rhetoric as conceived by Plato exhibits the structure characteristic of (tau)(epsilon)(chi)(nu)(eta). This task is accomplished by treatment of the Gorgias, and in this treatment rhetoric is shown to accord first with Ballard's theory of Platonic (tau)(epsilon)(chi)(nu)(eta) and then with that of Wild The third task is the demonstration that the knowledge which guides the action of rhetorical (tau)(epsilon)(chi)(nu)(eta) is knowledge of a form of man. This demonstration, accomplished through a treatment of the Phaedrus, amounts to a further elaboration of rhetoric as a Platonic art, and this treatment completes the preparation necessary to address this dissertation's fourth and final task This fourth task is a characterization of that form of man which guides rhetorical art. This characterization is in terms of man's ability to unite a plurality of perceptions under a form which is intended to reflect the truth about some subject. The elaboration of this characteristic human power is shown to be sufficient to indicate how rhetorical art is guided by a form of man and also to indicate how rhetorical art elicits such a form. With this fourth and final task accomplished the thesis of this dissertation is established: rhetorical art is a (tau)(epsilon)(chi)(nu)(eta) which is guided by and which seeks to elicit a form of man ('1)A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1925) ('2)(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1946) ('3)(The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1965)