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Lucy asked in Arts & HumanitiesPhilosophy · 1 month ago

Aristotle vs Plato on rhetoric?

I have an assignment where I need to write a dialogue about Aristotle and Plato arguing about their differences of opinion on rhetoric. I know that Plato wasn't a fan of rhetoric and Aristotle was but I don't understand what the major differences are and how to even go about writing this. Any help at all would be appreciated!

1 Answer

  • j153e
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    It is usually helpful to know clear meaning of what one is dealing with.  In this case, "rhetoric" and "dialectic," especially as Aristotle and Plato would view them.

    A second general guide is looking phenomenologically or with no preconceptions at the field you'll be playing in.  In this assignment, your teacher has a)  assumed an "a vs b" or dialectic situation (whereas Aristotle viewed dialectic and rhetoric as complementary) and b) given a dialectical format.

    So, back to first principle:  Socratic-Platonic dialectic is one-to-one; uses logic (Plato, "Gorgias").  Plato's view of rhetoric was likely conditioned by the Sophists, and in today's terms would be like a political harangue by a dictator--a monologue, no questions from the audience during the speech, lots of sound bites, stirring appeals to whatever (patriotism, class warfare, etc.), and trigger phrases.

    Given your assignment, which is a type of creative endeavor, the first consideration is:  characters.  The more true-to-historical-life you give your Plato and Aristotle, the higher the grade.  If you're creative, that can be a plus (e.g. Aristotle as snarky).

    Plato is Aristotle's teacher, so there is that natural tension between the established wise one and the up-coming "new school" guy.  That's another point of drama and/or comedy.

    A fourth consideration (after your clarity and understanding of definitions of terms; after your "psyching out" the game or rules of the game; and after your two 3 x 5 cards listing characters of Plato and Aristotle (do they have descriptions--is Plato's hair graying at the temples, what are they wearing where are they dialoguing, is there an audience, what moods are they in, etc.), which you refer to as you write the dialogue) is that of logic:  which, in your reasoned opinion, has the better position or argument?  In point of fact, if your Aristotle is reasonable, he can run circles around your Plato, as Plato historically opposed rhetoric, while Aristotle said both were ok if used properly.

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