Lecture 02: Phaedrus

8:15 – 8:25 am
Quiz on Longinus, On the Sublime and Aristotle, On Rhetoric, Chapter 2
8:25 – 8:50 am
Plato, Phaedrus


  • 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BCE
  • Theory of Forms


  • Dialogue about a) love and b) writing
  • Socrates meets Phaedrus as the latter is traveling from a party in the city where Lysias has just given a speech on love. Socrates beckons Phaedrus to walk with him outside the city and discuss both the content (love) and style (rhetoric/writing) of Lysias’s speech. (City vs. countryside duality)
  • Discussion of Rhetoric (259e – 274b)
  • Discussion of Writing (274b – 277a)

Myth of the Cicadas (read in class)

  • Foreshadowing of the priority of the art over the preliminaries (269a)
  • Volunteers for Socrates and Phaedrus, read 268a – 269a in doalogue

Discussion of Rhetoric

  • “When is a speech well written and delivered, and when is it not?” (259e)
  • Summaries at 273d – 373e and 277b – 277c (read in class)
  • Dialectic (263b, 265d – 266b, 269b, 270c – 270d)

Discussion of Writing

  • “What’s left, then, is aptness and ineptness in connection with writing: What feature makes writing good, and what inept?” (274b)
  • Theuth (Thoth) vs. King Thamus (274c – 275b; read in class)
  • Duality/opposition fits perfectly with Plato’s dialectic (classification and division)
  • Pharmakon (Plato’s Pharmacy [1972]; Derrida (1930 – 2004]; deconstruction [Logocentrism, Metaphysics of Presence, Play]
  • The Sensible Farmer (276b; read in class)
8:50 – 9:15 am
Free-writing Assignment #2
  • Free-writing Assignment #2
  • Discussion
9:15 – 9:25 am
A re-revolution in writing technology
9:25 – 9:30 am
Wrap up

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