By defining this, there was also the ability to understand the power of rhetoric and both the good and harmful aspects of this. The belief which Plato held was that through true rhetoric, truth and justice could be found; however, this had to be without the intent of manipulation or power, as approached from the Sophists. The first concept which Plato introduces in his work comes from the indictment of rhetoric in Gorgias. The analysis which Plato condemned in terms of the Sophists and Gorgias was based on how rhetoric and philosophy was not able to create crucial or persuasive forces when speaking. Plato stated that the rhetoric used was not defined by finding truth, but instead was based on the other intentions behind the persuasion. “Because Plato so successfully anticipates the major issues that attend rhetoric throughout its long history – issues like power, the potential for manipulation, and rhetoric’s relationship to truth – Gorgias has long been viewed as a valuable treatment of the Sophists in particular and rhetoric in general” (Herrick, 2009, p. 57). The approach which Plato takes toward Gorgias, as well as the Sophists, is based on the concept that manipulation and power were the basis of the intent of speaking and persuasion. This was done instead of working to solutions or finding the truth of a given situation. Plato points out that the politicians as well as others in power had the most use for this, specifically because the rhetoric could be used to persuade others to move in a different manner. The concept of the rhetoric used for power and manipulation was combined with the question of what rhetoric should be used for and how this could change the intent of one speaking for persuasion. The concept which Plato uses is one that shows that there is a need to question the purpose of rhetoric, what it is used for and the intent behind the individual who is speaking. The question was based on what the nature of persuasion was used for and why it was used. “In Gorgias, Plato addresses major questions attending rhetoric throughout its history…What was the nature of rhetoric? Does rhetoric by its very nature tend to mislead? What happens to a society when persuasion forms the basis of law and justice?” (Herrick, 2009, p. 58). The concept that Plato was challenging was based on the intent of rhetoric. If the rhetoric is used for power, then it becomes untrue and doesn’t provide a sense of persuasion. When looking at rhetoric one could define that the nature of persuasion was one which was either for justice or was for power and manipulation. The nature then became dependent on the intent of persuasion as well as the way in which the rhetoric was used. The underlying problem which Plato challenged with the rhetoric of the Sophists became the one which questioned the persuasion as the form of law and justice. If the persuasion was used as a way to convince others of something of justice and truth, then it could be considered fair. However, Plato’s argument was that the Sophists used the persuasion to form law and justice. This was not based on justice, truth or fairness, but was instead based on persuasion and manipulation that could be used to form power and wealth among politicians and others. The concept that Plato defines is the art of rhetoric, in which one could create the belief that the persuasion was
Name, Name COM 409: The Rhetorical Tradition Summer 2011 MAKEUP EXAMINATION #1 1. The concept of rhetoric as described by Plato is one that was based on finding different forms of persuasion and communication which worked effectively. Plato created an understanding that rhetoric, as practiced by the Sophists was illegitimate while a true rhetoric needed to be developed in place of this…
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