Please pick ONE of the following topics and write a response of 5 to 7 pages (doublespaced, 12-point font, 1-inch margins). Make sure to refer to and cite the relevant
readings in your answer. You are not required to cite any material beyond the readings
on the syllabus.
- In the Gorgias, Plato has Socrates argue that rhetoric is related to justice in the
same way that cooking pastries is related to medicine, and that rhetoric is “the
ghost or counterfeit of a part of politics.” If you were coming up with the best
possible response to this argument, what would you say? You can draw on any
sources that we have read so far, but be sure to engage directly with Plato’s
argument in the Gorgias. (Note that for this question, you can assume that
Socrates expresses Plato’s views.)
- In the Gorgias, Plato has Socrates argue that rhetoric is an empereia (an
experience or knack), while Aristotle’s Rhetoric supports the view that rhetoric is
a techne (an art or science). Why do you think this distinction matters to these
philosophers? What evidence does each one use to support his claim? Which
claim do you think is stronger, and why? (Note that for this question, you can
assume that Socrates expresses Plato’s views.)
- Does the Mytilenean debate, as reported by Thucydides, provide better support
for Plato’s or for Aristotle’s views on the value of rhetoric in a democracy? Why?
- In “The Old Rhetoric,” Roland Barthes gives a detailed description of rhetoric and
public speaking education in classical antiquity. What would be some of the
characteristics of the kind of rhetoric produced by this system of education?
What do you think would be the advantages and disadvantages of that kind of