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ERIC Number: ED346515
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1992-Mar
Pages: 17
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Eloquence as Virtue in Ancient Theory.
Donovan, Brian R.
Plato attacked the sophists' claim that they taught "virtue," and he believed that rhetoric, which they taught, was not an "art." If the notions of virtue and art are brought together and integrated to constitute an antithesis, the sophistic position becomes more intelligible and defensible. The Greek term "arete," translated as "virtue," can be manifested either as excellence in a particular role or in the whole of living. The term "techne," which has been translated as "art," is better imagined as any distinctly specialized trade or craft. Thus the antithesis is between civic virtue and specialized technical skill. Long before Plato, and contrary to the Platonic view, Homer conceived of eloquence as both arete and techne. In both the "Iliad" and "Odyssey," Homer suggests that eloquence is not only a specialized skill, but also an integral part of overall human excellence. To Socrates and Plato, the technical knowledge of artisans was the only kind of ordinary human knowledge that was genuine. An examination of the first third of Plato's dialogue "Protagoras" shows how Plato obscures the issue by exploiting the flexibility of the two terms arete and techne, and by studied neglect of the intimate connection between teaching arete and techne rhetoric. Modern educators can admit both arete and techne on the basis of a larger view of eloquence as radically non-specialized and morally requisite for all in a democratic society. (Nineteen references are attached.) (SG)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A