Sunday, January 31, 2016

Protagoras vs. Plato

   The case between Protagoras and Plato was a curious one that I shall remember forever. In our times, the question that is buzzing through all of the polis, especially in the area of the agora, is the following: "who is right, Protagoras or Plato?" Furthermore, what is better for our society--rhetoric or dialectic? If you travel through Athens and take in your surroundings, you are sure to hear this issue spoken by a multitude of citizens. Even the small children are running about whispering to each other what their parents have discussed at home. I must say, before this trial, I do not know whose side I was on. I suppose if I had to choose, I would say that I was on Plato's side previously simply because dialectic is what I am used to--it is what we are all used to! Rhetoric is of the new age... it is something we do not yet fully understand. After this trial, however, I have most definitely gained knowledge on the subject.

    Both Protagoras and Plato began their arguments strongly. I was unable to pick a side throughout most of the trial, actually. And because of this, I was wondering just how useful rhetoric really is. Surely if it is as important and astounding as Protagoras was claiming, there would not be a shadow of a doubt that he was correct. It was not so until about three-quarters of the way through their argument. 

   I began to notice a shift in the two men's demeanor... Plato began to seem worried that his case would not hold, while Protagoras was becoming more confident. I pondered this thought for some time before realizing that Plato was bowing down because he, too, was beginning to see the light in Protagoras's ways. Protagoras was right on when he said that rhetoric was needed in order to find our own individual truths. I understand that Plato's way of thinking is the more traditional, popular belief, but I have no doubt that the roles will soon be switched once everyone begins to see the things that rhetoric can do for them. Rhetoric is not just a way to make money! It is a way to discuss, to promote change, and most of all to discover all of the brilliant facets of this life. If we do not discuss and use a rhetorical way of thinking, how can we ever hope to progress? If we stuck with the dialectic way of thinking and being, then we would be just that--stuck. We would never invent new things or think about things any differently. The way I see it, we have always been rhetorical beings, we just never knew it.

   Therefore, with all of this being said, I rule in the case of Protagoras vs. Plato, in favor of Protagoras, the teacher of rhetoric--the teacher of the future. 

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