Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Aristotelian pwnage

The converse arguments of Socrates and Thrasymachus are interesting examples of rhetoric. However, the argument, in my view, is a clear victory for Socrates on many levels, including, but not limited to, the actual refutation of Thrasymachus’ views.

Based on the Aristotelian rhetorical view, Socrates bests Thrasymachus completely. First off, Aristotle says that for a person’s ethos to be persuasive, a speech must have common sense, moral virtue, and goodwill toward the audience. Thrasymachus not only rejects common views of what is acceptable by his society by brashly championing injustice, he also insults and demeans the moral views of his peers by insulting justice. As if this weren’t enough to kill his “goodwill toward the audience”, he is also very aggressive and insulting to Polemarchus and Socrates. Socrates on the other hand uses very small, hard to refute statements (the common sense component) as the building blocks for his rejection of injustice (the moral virtue component), and does so in a mild and reasonable manner (goodwill toward Thrasymachus). Socrates is the clear winner of the battle of ethos.

As far as pathos is concerned, I find that Socrates bests Thrasymachus once again. Thrasymachus’ brash and belligerent demeanor conflicts strongly with the style in which Socrates and Polemarchus were speaking, and which the others in attendance found good enough to keep Thrasymachus silent until their deliberation’s conclusion. The style of this deliberation, a style of calm, methodical dialogue through examination, concession, and refutation that Socrates adopts, along with its evident approval by his peers, indicates that the audience is a group that prefers a calm and friendly dialogue based on reasoning. Thrasymachus is too bold for this group. Socrates wins the battle of pathos.

Concerning Logos it is clear who the victor is since Socrates is able to not only refute Thrasymachus’ arguments, but turn them on their heads to say the exact opposite of what they originally held to be true. Thrasymachus is unable to refute any of Socrates arguments.

Check and mate.


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