Is not rhetoric, taken generally, a universal art of enchanting the mind by arguments; which is practised not only in courts and public assemblies, but in private houses also, having to do with all matters, great as well as small, good and bad alike, and is in all equally right, and equally to be esteemed-that is what you have heard? — Socrates, as channelled by Plato —Phaedrus (Georgetown University)
While my parents are watching the kids this morgning, I’m down here in the den, gettin’ my classical freak on.
Socrates is trying to back Phaedrus into a corner here. Is all argument equally to be esteemed? Through Socrates, Plato prepares to make the argument that excellence in the spoken word is more valuable than excellence in the written word. The author of a written text cannot argue back against people who disagree with what is written. (See my earlier blogging on “fisking“). A written text is recited by those who do not understand the subject, but who wish to enforce the document’s conclusions.
This is one of many resources at James O’Donnell’s site (to which I will certainly return).