Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Socrates vs. Thrasymachus (7-12)

In the debate between Socrates and Thrasymachus regarding justice as an element of wisdom and virtue or as an element of evil, I found Socrates’ methods of persuasion to be much more convincing. Thrasymachus, who has become quite heated about the subject of justice as he has witnessed Socrates and Polemarchus debate its meaning, seems to lash out against Socrates in front of the audience before he even begins to present his argument. He speaks to the audience in a negative tone, mocking Socrates, “How characteristic...have I not already told you that whatever he asks he would refuse to answer, ad try irony or any other shuffle, in order he might avoid answering” (p11). Thrasymachus believes that rather than answer any question which he poses, Socrates merely “take[s] and pull[s] to pieces the answer of someone else,” (p12) which he publicly accuses him of. As discussed in The Elements of Persuasion, in order to present an effective ethos the speaker must portray eunoia, or goodwill toward the audience. The above are prime examples of Thrasymachus’ lack of eunoia, a probable cause of what ultimately results in his inability to persuade the audience of his argument. Socrates, on the other hand, portrays great eunoia as he poses his questions, never berating or attacking Thrasymachus or his ideas, but rather using rhetorical questions to persuade others of his argument. Numerous paradigms also support his point view. Although sarcastic in many of his remarks, Socrates never oversteps the boundary of blatant rudeness. At the conclusion of their discussion both Socrates and Thrasymachus retire, with no answer to the true meaning of justice at all. Overall, it is my opinion that most audience members left with the opinion that Socrates disproved Thrasymachus’ proclamation that “Justice is nothing else than the interest of the stronger” (p12) through use of logical logos and rhetorical devices.