THE  SHADOW OF  SOCRATES

This website is in honor of and an examination of the ideas of Socrates and his method of the dialectic as that potent interactive process by which objective truth of a society or culture can be arrived at, given the right form (law), and observed, followed or modified according to the time and situation( ethics ).

It is not an accident that the highest philosophic teaching that Plato offers is not doctrine, but dialectic, a conversation in which ideas animate persons in search of wisdom. A dialog, which is the practice of dialectic, is a historic event in which men with bodies, senses, passions, and thoughts live and move with purpose and willful intentions that involve even the reader in the highest and most serious human concerns. No thought is expressed except by a character, and no act is done without revealing an intention.( Scott Buchanan )

Socrates was responsible for a fundamentally new way of philosophizing - trying to grasp the world by means of human reason. TTC  R. C. Bartlett

The dialogs suggest to us that real teaching is done through the dialectic, and that real teaching is free.......TTC  M. Sugru

No one man in History, except Jesus, has ever made more of a difference to History. Every school of ancient philosophy, except for materialistic Epicureanism, claimed to be the true disciples of Socrates. The difference between Socrates and preceding philosophers is so much greater than the difference between any of his successors that all of those preceding him are called pre-Socratics.  What made him so different was not so much as new ideas as a whole new way of thinking - a kind of skeleton key that would open whole new number of doors that were previously closed to human  thought - a new power tool for thinking. He was the first person in History to have a clear idea of what a logical argument was - when a point was really proved to be true. His method now called the Socratic method of questioning an idea as a lawyer would question a witness in court and doing it in a logical step by step way so that if you accepted certain premises as true he could show you that it necessarily had to accept certain conclusions as true too as these conclusions logically followed from those premises. In Socrates, for the first time reason became aware of itself, became a differentiated psychic function. He applied this new method only to one subject - ethics. He was not interested in the physical universe, or in the arts or in politics but only in ethics...TMS P. Kreeft

Come under the shadow of Socrates to rediscover his quest : the critical analysis of concepts and in their application in dialog. A dialog between equals for a common cause or purpose.

 

A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF HUMAN DISCOURSE :

POETRY, RHETORIC and  DIALECTIC.

These words have their origins from Greek and Latin and since been used with various meanings ( especially dialectic ) but in here these words have been denoted in this manner :

Poetry : a writing of great quality, great beauty, emotional sincerity or intensity or profound insight.

Rhetoric : Persuasive speech or writing ; ability to use language effectively, especially to persuade or influence people.

Dialectic :  A dialog or debate in order to resolve a conflict between two contradictory ideas by establishing truths on both sides rather than disproving one argument.

 

OUTLINES OF THE SHADOW :

Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry. ( W. B. Yeats)

Any authentic work of art must start as an argument between the artist and his audience. (Rebecca West)

From these denotations it's clear that  poetry is definitely an art of using words to portray the depths of experience : good, beautiful, ugly or terrifying as the experience of the poet or the audience that sees it without any specific intent to persuade or influence anyone towards a particular point of view but with an aim to enlighten or provide insight, whereas rhetoric is also an art, but with an aim to persuade or influence another towards a particular point of view by acting upon or mainly appealing to the emotions ; the dialectic is more of a logical, rational exercise between two or more people that goes into the enquiry of an issue by examining it from different, even opposite angles in order to arrive at a common or objective truth.

There are certain preconditions to a dialog (to initiate) and what happens when we don't have these preconditions or if these preconditions erode and fall away and the dialog is undermined, is that we find that this results in a loss of communication. This loss or lack of communication is often  masked by an ironic non-conclusion to the dialogs of Plato. The preconditions to  dialectic is a willingness to ask and answer questions - it is the opposite of rhetorical matching of speeches where one and then the other makes a long declamation, the crowd claps in the end, and on the basis of applause we decide who is the better speaker. Socratic dialog ( dialectic) means examining things on a sentence by sentence level. Every question has a corresponding answer, which then generates more questions. Usually it is to take one big question and fraction it into a whole family of questions. Big questions like 'what is justice?' is broken down into human size pieces which turn out to be a lot more difficult than what they appear to be in the first case. You may not have the right answer, but at least the willingness to answer, or the very least ask the (valid) questions. The essential thing is to have the goodwill and the willingness to exert yourself in this question and answer format. The goal of dialectic is not verbal victory, these dialogs will not teach you how to become a shyster lawyer or to win cases particularly if you have an unjust case. It's not going to teach you how to play the old shell game with words. The Socratic dialog intends to teach you how to reach towards true, honest conclusions. True propositions is the goal of this dialog, not verbal victory. ...TTC.. M. Sugrue

Rhetoric seeks to make acceptable, influence, persuade even convert people to a particular idea or point of view, by presenting that point of view forcefully, as also by denying, degrading, demeaning or demolishing  its opposing point of view. Rhetoric even tries to deny the validity of opposite points of view by taking a one sided stand on issues of concern that the protagonist of that point of view feels is the final or only point of view in the matter. That has been the typical role of rhetorical speech and writing : it represents and defends one party's views forcefully in a conflict with another party with an opposing view. Rhetoric is about winning and losing, whereas the dialectic is not about winning or losing but about truth. ( With an honest and sincere conviction that truth is possible...Sugrue)

In Phaedrus, the rhetoric of the sophist  is shown to be forceful, somehow being violent, and the alternative to that is true rhetoric of Socrates which is a combination of dialectic and right rhetoric principles - which allow us to speak the truth and simultaneously speak persuasively. .....TTC M. Sugrue

Rhetoric traditionally attempts to be an exclusive method that appeals to the emotions and feelings of man without an appeal to the reason of man (at its extreme it tries to bypass the reason altogether ) -  but at best ( exceptional ), it attempts to transcend the severe limitations of one sided or blind sided reason ( or when and where reason proves to be inadequate or unsuitable), a role that rhetoric has very rarely played and is contrary to it's traditional role. Although the rhetoric and dialectic modes of discourse have seemingly different aims or goals, in this work an attempt has been made to find if there is any ground where they actually tend to converge.  This work examines the lower and upper limits of rhetoric and dialectic in human social, political and cultural affairs, and at the outset it is stated here that good rhetoric actually leads to better reasoning and understanding, whereas bad or misdirected rhetoric leads to bad logic and bad understanding which are then perpetuated by their dependence and hooking on to base human emotions.

In Plato's works we find a rare, unique and explosive combination of poetry, rhetoric and dialectic.

 

It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry. (Thomas Paine)

"The well that we will be tapping here is a very broad and deep well. We can only profit by returning to it again and again. Spending time with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle can be a very humbling experience, and it's not always pleasant to be humbled. To be in the presence of such seriousness of purpose, such a sustained intellectual intensity, such remarkable penetration, is likely to make manifest our own limitations in this regards.
TTC  R. C. Bartlett

 

THE MANY DEPTHS OF THE SHADOW :
AN INDEX TO THE CONTOURS OF THE SHADOW

PAGE 1 : THE SOCRATIC QUEST OF THE DIALECTIC

PAGE 2 : THE ADVENT AND APPLICATION OF RHETORIC : WHERE AND HOW - A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE : RHETORIC AS MONOLOGUE

PAGE 3:  RHETORIC and DIALOG : RHETORIC IN POLITICS

PAGE 4 : ADVENT OF PHILOSOPHICAL INQUIRY : A MISFIRED TAKEOFF

PAGE 5 : RHETORIC AND MORALITY : THE RHETORICIANS OF "VIRTUE"

PAGE 6 : THE MOTIVE AND THE EMOTIVE

PAGE 7 : THE PITFALLS OF RHETORIC

PAGE 8 : THE POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF THE DIALECTIC & RHETORIC

PAGE 9 : SUCCESS & FAILURE OF THE DIALOG : THE RISE OF NATIONS and NATIONALISM

PAGE 10 : FAILED DIALECTIC : COMMUNISM VS CAPITALISM