Plato vs Isocrates

1762 words 8 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.

Socrates
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Having a natural speaking ability and by also holding oneself to a higher standard of integrity, Isocrates says, is only empowered by the wise. “I hold that man to be wise who is able by his powers of conjecture to arrive generally at the best course.” (77) Isocrates in this statement is referring to decision-making and the process in order to make the best decision. A man assuming the best course for the best possible outcome and using good judgment to make good decisions is wise. Isocrates also suggests that wise people are honorable, just and sincere and use those virtues to decide which path to take in decision making. “The power to speak well and think right will reward the man who approaches the art of discourse with love of wisdom and love of honor.” (77) Wisdom is within admirable, honest and appropriate speakers who are capable of understanding the process of decision making.

Not only does a wise men evaluate the process of decision making properly, according to Isocrates, but a wise man must know that experience, training and natural ability all contribute to being a superior orator. “I do hold that people can become

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