Plato, whether unintentionally or deliberately, very clearly categorized the practice of rhetoric into three analogies – that of the non-lover, that of the selfish/evil lover, and that of the noble/good lover. The non-lover represents the practice of “a rhetoric” that isn’t true practice of rhetoric at all, for it attempts to persuade via appeal to fact and the objective alone. It does not attempt to analyze, for it represents conversation without an attempt to intellectually dig deeper in pursuit of hidden truth. This appears attractive to the common man, for it is a very “no pressure” situation: face value seems entirely irrefutable and therefore closed to conversation, so one needn’t think very hard about it, only accept it as it is. However, just like relations with a non-lover, it ultimately offers much less than a lover could in terms of other forms of conversation involving rhetoric and dialectic at work and not just retelling of the same facts. Plato, speaking through his character Socrates, states that while it may appeal to a much wider group of people, it’ll never evolve into mindfulness, and therefore holds very little worth.

Socrates  then makes the distinction between an “evil” and “noble” lovers. The evil lover is the rhetorician only in the conversation for his own personal gain, as a bad lover would be. He dominates the situation and persuades via coercion and manipulation to exploit the next person over. The receiving party is always at a deficit in this plan of the poor rhetoric. Oppositely, the noble rhetorician incorporates all parts of rhetoric (including dialectic and a higher mission) into the conversation. It is a passion directed in order to achieve a practical end, not made to confuse the recipient but rather enlighten and engage the other as an equal in practice. And thusly, the analogy of the selfless lover vs. the selfish lover works very smoothly.

It can be interpreted that to Plato, rhetoric is only “true” and just if not used in the corrupted sense. In addition, “trueness” is more god-like, for not everyone can be a philosopher. Nonetheless, all can work to better means. A good rhetorician brings the masses closer to the gods. It can either bring light to the truth or be twisted to hide the truth. This, in accordance with the entirety of the Phaedrus, provides a comprehensive formula for proper rhetoric.

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