Plato vs Isocrates Essay

1747 Words Mar 22nd, 2010 7 Pages
Plato encouraged in his writings that the view that sophists were concerned with was “the manipulative aspects of how humans acquire knowledge.” (Lecture) Sophists believed that only provisional or probable knowledge was available to humans but both Plato and Isocrates did not agree with a lot of what the Sophists had to say. They both believed in wisdom and having a connection with rhetoric but vary in defining wisdom in itself. Wisdom for Socrates and Plato is having an understanding of speech, knowledge of truth and being able to question the speaker in order to seek and reveal truth. Isocrates defined wisdom as having a sense of integrity and character along with the ambition and ability to speak well with others.

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(167) One who knows knowledge, more so, one who loves wisdom, delivers their wisdom, knowledge and understanding to others. Since wisdom is the understanding of speech, knowing truth and questioning credibility, rhetoric does not produce knowledge. It delivers the knowledge to others. Being wise is being able to recognize and acknowledge the hidden truth of speech and creating a sense of understanding with that knowledge.

Socrates and Plato differ from Isocrates by believing that rhetoric, which distributes wisdom, comes from the soul. “The man whose rhetorical teaching is a real art will explain accurately the nature of that to which his words are to be addressed, and that is the soul.” (163) Ones soul is affected by decisions made by the human form and also by those interacting with the soul. The wise man’s soul contains wisdom, truth and intelligence. Thus, by interacting with a bad soul or a soul with bad intent lowers to soul of a just and wise man. Since rhetoric is distributing knowledge to others, the soul should be used when making hard and uncertain decisions. The soul of a wise person holds ultimate truth and its human form knows how to seek out knowledge and understanding to find ultimate truth by ways of questioning.

To the contrary, Isocrates believes that wisdom has nothing to do with the soul and the heavens, for he claims that the gods in the heavens have disputes.

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