The beneficial are good , and the hurtful are evil?”(Gorgias – Wikisource)
From the dialogue between Socrates and Rhetoric, the art of rhetoric is defined explicitly. Rhetoric helps us understand ourselves more elaborately and powerfully to avoid misunderstanding. A very good example of “drinking” is given to help us understand how rhetoric can be used to avoid understanding and I quote:
Socrates There is pleasure in drinking?
Socrates When you are thirsty?
Socrates And in Pain?”
( Gorgias – Wikisource)
Thus, Socrates explains pleasure and pain quite clearly. There is pleasure in drinking, however, there is pain when thirsty.
On the other hand Phaedrus and Socrates dialogues reveal the several uses of rhetoric. For example, the rhetoric of court (law) is revealed . Socrates and Phaedrus discuss that in court no one cares about truth. Thus rhetoric is the arrangement of ideas, a persuasive discourse to convince the hearer.
According to Phaedrus, Rhetoric is a superficial art. ( Online Library of Liberty – PHAEDRUS- the Dialogues of Plato, vol.1)
Therefore, when considering the rhetoric of court there is no absolute truth. A clever rhetorician can use skilful oration to reach convincing “truths”. Furthermore, the reading on Phaedrus interested me further, where the comparison of the two horses and charioteer is made.
For example, The Right- hand horse upright and clearly made, lofty neck and acquline nose, color white, eyes dark, depict the lover of honour, modesty and temperance, follower of true glory, needs no touch of whip, but guided by word and admonition only. (Online Library of Liberty – PHAEDRUS – The Dialogues of Plato – Vol.1).
The above comparison is a biblical allusion whereby the church is led by the word of God, and people who follow the word of God, are believed to receive the white garments as a result of their devotion , faith and honesty to the Bible ( the word of God).
The white garment concept has been a practical experience in my life whereby a pastor from Korea attended a church Congregation, praying for people and touching those who received white garment from God. This was a memorable experience for me. The metaphor of the two horses and the charioteer is a good example to explain the rhetoric of Religion.
Therefore, this weeks readings reflect the Art of Rhetoricians and how rhetoric is able to explain the good and bad, the truths and non-truths and the make- believe aspects of life.