Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Socratic Impression

Although I believe them to be indirect, time-consuming, and nearly deceptive, Socrates’ means of persuasion are extremely effective nonetheless. Although his logos is compelling, I believe that his ethos is the most influential aspect of his rhetoric. Individuals seem to be so receptive to conversing with Socrates because he maintains such a positive ethos, even when his logos directly contradicts the statements or belief held by the audience he is conversing with. He immediately makes his eunoia evident by directing praise, respect, and admonishment towards his audience, such as when he describes those with acquired wealth as “bad company,” implying that wealthy individuals who have inherited their money instead of acquired it (i.e. Cephalus whom he is speaking to) remain more detached from their money which is a positive attribute.
He then combines this eunoia with his logical reasoning skills and phronesis to elevate his ethos even higher. An example of this is when he asks Polemarchus, Cephalus’ heir and replacement to the argument, series’ of questions whose answers can be easily derived by common sense, such as, “But when a man is well…there is no need of a physician?” These basic questions cause the audience to assume that Socrates has a clear understanding of common-sense, thus they make it believe his arguments are valid.
The logos he uses for his arguments are usually paradigmatic and directly support and reinforce his phronesis, making it less emotionally based but more founded from pure logic. Since he knows, or at least strongly believes, that the people he is conversing/debating with share the same emphasis on logic and also hold the same premises he uses to be common sense, he easily appeals to their pathos and, through the exquisite use of his logos, is able to easily persuade the audience to believe whatever he is trying to prove.

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