The Rhetoric Of Plato's Republic: Democracy And The Philosophical Problem Of Persuasion

Hardcover | August 25, 2015

byJames L. Kastely

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Plato isn’t exactly thought of as a champion of democracy, and perhaps even less as an important rhetorical theorist. In this book, James L. Kastely recasts Plato in just these lights, offering a vivid new reading of one of Plato’s most important works: the Republic. At heart, Kastely demonstrates, the Republic is a democratic epic poem and pioneering work in rhetorical theory. Examining issues of justice, communication, persuasion, and audience, he uncovers a seedbed of theoretical ideas that resonate all the way up to our contemporary democratic practices.  
           
As Kastely shows, the Republic begins with two interrelated crises: one rhetorical, one philosophical. In the first, democracy is defended by a discourse of justice, but no one can take this discourse seriously because no one can see—in a world where the powerful dominate the weak—how justice is a value in itself. That value must be found philosophically, but philosophy, as Plato and Socrates understand it, can reach only the very few. In order to reach its larger political audience, it must become rhetoric; it must become a persuasive part of the larger culture—which, at that time, meant epic poetry. Tracing how Plato and Socrates formulate this transformation in the Republic, Kastely isolates a crucial theory of persuasion that is central to how we talk together about justice and organize ourselves according to democratic principles. 

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Plato isn’t exactly thought of as a champion of democracy, and perhaps even less as an important rhetorical theorist. In this book, James L. Kastely recasts Plato in just these lights, offering a vivid new reading of one of Plato’s most important works: the Republic. At heart, Kastely demonstrates, the Republic is a democratic epic poe...

James L. Kastely is professor of English and director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston. He is the author of Rethinking the Rhetorical Tradition: From Plato to Postmodernism. 
Format:HardcoverDimensions:280 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:August 25, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022627862X

ISBN - 13:9780226278629

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“Kastely’s subtle and illuminating reading of the Republic as a work of both political and rhetorical theory explains Plato’s democratic philosophy and its embodiment in the rhetorical practices he depicts. Unlike many studies past and present, this portrait of Plato’s defense of democracy meticulously distinguishes between Plato’s ideas and those advanced by Socrates. From this perspective, Kastely proposes, some of Socrates’s rhetorical failures may be seen as crafted by Plato to exemplify the limitations of elite political and philosophical cultures and their discourses.”