The Psychagogic Work of Examples in Plato's Statesman

Philosophy and Rhetoric 49 (3):300-322 (2016)
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Abstract

This paper concerns the role of examples (paradeigmata) as propaedeutic to philosophical inquiry, in light of the methodological digression of Plato’s Statesman. Consistent with scholarship on Aristotle’s view of example, scholars of Plato’s work have privileged the logic of example over their rhetorical appeal to the soul of the learner. Following a small but significant trend in recent rhetorical scholarship that emphasizes the affective nature of examples, this essay assesses the psychagogic potential of paradeigmata, following the discussion of example in Plato’s Statesman. I argue that, by creating an expectation for finding similarities, the use of examples in philosophical pedagogy cultivates in the soul of the learner a desire to discern the intelligible principles the ground experiential knowledge. Thus, examples not only serve as practice at the dialectician’s method of abstraction, but also cultivate a dialectical ethos, characterized by the desire to know the logoi of all things.

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Holly Moore
Luther College

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References found in this work

Plato’s Euthyphro.P. T. Geach - 1966 - The Monist 50 (3):369-382.
Letters and syllables in Plato.Gilbert Ryle - 1960 - Philosophical Review 69 (4):431-451.

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