Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Studying and Notebook Work Session

If anyone happens to be on campus, I am in the study room above our regular classroom in Le Conte working on the final paper and the notebook. I'll be here for sure until Dale's office hours begin and possibly longer.

I'll be studying for Rhetoric 10 too so come through!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Edward McAuley
Rhetoric 103A
Figurative analysis - Phaedrus
December 4, 2016
GSI: Kuan S. Hwa

the Phaedrus: “Every one sees that love is a desire…is called love”

Socrates walks beyond the Athens city limits to enjoy the pleasures of the countryside with his friend Phaedrus. Phaedrus has just heard Lysias speak and is clearly impressed; Socrates however will not allow this impression to take root in his friend because he believes philosophy is a superior discipline for understanding truth than is rhetoric. They walk beside the Ilisus River conversing about rhetoric and philosophy. During their conversation, Socrates engages his mission to persuade his young friend, through personal conversation in this pleasant setting, that while rhetoric is a useful tool of oratory, it is philosophy that is the better arbiter of truth. In the course of their walk Socrates engages mimesis to feign aporia as a means of mock-questioning the very question he is begging. In the process he also presses a metaphoric divisio notion of erotic love and non-love as a basis for dividing philosophy and rhetoric as separate and juxtaposed, ultimately arguing that philosophy as the more serious pursuit.

In the process of making the first of his two main arguments in the Phaedrus, Socrates distinguishes between the lover and the non-lover, identifying them again metaphorically as “two guiding and ruling principles” and amplifying them by claiming that while they are sometimes in harmony, they are often at war. Socrates puts at odds the kind of desire of the erotic lover possesses against the kind of desire of those who love things because they are Beautiful of form (Platonic form); the former he argues causes one to be ruled by a metaphorical tyrant in the form of the lower, appetitive desires that cause gluttony, drunkenness, and excess, whereas the latter is the proper orientation toward that which is True, Just, And Beautiful. This argument is an argument from assumptio through which Socrates holds forth that those pursuits of the mind are of a higher and better order than those of the body (ref: Plato’s Divided-line Epistemology).2 This can be seen in his words: “When opinion by the help of reason leads us to the best, the conquering principle is called temperance; but when desire, which is devoid of reason, rules in us and drags us to pleasure, that power of misrule is called excess.”

Socrates uses hyperbole in an all-out attack on rhetoric in the form of the erotic lover who is cast as a most base creature who follows only his urges and passions and rarely his higher callings of thought and understanding. There is of course significant irony in this passage, and in Socrates’ whole argument about philosophy vs. rhetoric through the depiction of platonic vs. erotic love, in that Socrates’ deploys rhetoric in order to persuade Phaedrus that rhetoric is a base level operation, unworthy of enlightened human beings. One might humorously ask, and reasonably so: if rhetoric is so terrible Socrates, why have you gone to such great lengths to press it into service for your argument?

1. Plato, John M. Cooper, and D. S. Hutchinson. "Phaedrus." Translated by Alexander Nehamas and Paul Woodruff. In Complete Works, 516-17. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Pub., 1997.
2. Plato, John M. Cooper, and D. S. Hutchinson. "Republic, Book VI, 509d5." In Complete Works, translated by G.M.A. Grube and C.D.C. Reeve, Rev., 1130. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Pub., 1997.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Allison Zhou
Professor Carrico, GSI: Jerilyn Sambrooke
Rhetoric 103A
30 November 2016
The Circle: Sentence, Paragraph, Biography, Dynasty
            In paragraph 6 of “The Life of Caligula” by Suetonius, the figure of an enclosed, circular syntactical structure is made manifest in the epigraph “safe is Rome, safe too our country, for Germanicus is safe” (411). Beginning and ending with the sentence with the word “safe” suggests that the sentence is a closed and bracketed off, independent textual unit in itself. The repetition of “safe,” where the sentence begins where it ends, and ends where it begins reinforces a sense of circularity and enclosedness—that Rome itself is a complete, discrete haven of safety due to its association with Germanicus and safety in a circular chain. The figurings and various re-figurings of the circular structure, that at once signifies beginning and ending, completion and confinement, functions to exemplify the circularity and repetition embedded within the structure of individual lives, biographical writings, and the vicious Caesarian dynasty.
            In paragraph 1 of the piece, both the birth and death of Germanicus’ political career is articulated and contained within a single paragraph. The paragraph opens: “Germanicus, father of Gaius Caesar, son of Drusus and the younger Antonia, after being adopted by his paternal uncle Tiberius, held the quaestorship five years before the legal age and passed directly to the consulship” (405). The start of Germanicus’ political career is conveyed in the first sentence, only to meet its end in the fourth sentence where it is reported that he “died of a lingering illness at Antioch, in the thirty-fourth year of his age” (405). Here, the paragraph that contains both the   start and demise of Germanicus’ life in close proximity functions to render his life a complete circle with a beginning and an inevitable end, a self-enclosed totality in itself. The figure of the circle serves to gesture at the mortality, and transience of human lives—that human lives are incontestably finite, self-contained, temporalities. The figure of the circular structure also gets expanded to span a whole paragraph.
            Next, historical biographies—the literary representation of lives that are already inherently circular, also assume an extended circular structure. If Suetonius’ aim was to write an account of Caligula’s life, then it is also an endeavor to write about births, beginnings, ends, and deaths—which necessarily accords the form of the historical biography the structure of a circular narrative. Because Suetonius resolved to recount the the birth of Caligula “’who was born in the camp and reared ‘mid the arms of his country’” (414), he must also include the death of Caligula: “he lived twenty-nine years and ruled three years, ten months and eight days” (496) for his biography to representationally encircle Caligula’s life in a complete, cohesive account. Even Caligula, the Caesar who led a life of such debauchery and splendid glory and pomp cannot escape the logic of the circle which imposes a beginning and an end. The circular structure of individual life is in confluence with the circular structure of biographies. The figure of the circular structure gets expanded to the length of an entire text, with its circularity and enclosedness delineated over the course of the text.

            Moreover, Suetonius also employs the figure of the circle, a figure that at once connotes vicious repetition but also inevitable demise—to argue that Caesarian dynastic rule has been nothing but a circular, static, unproductive, repetition, and that it must meet its ultimate demise. Suetonius informs that after Caligula’s death, “men further observed and commented on the fact that all the Caesars whose forename was Gaius perished by the sword, beginning with the one who was slain in the times of Cinna” (497). By highlighting the fact that all the Gaius Caesars died a common death by sword, Suetonius demonstrates the circularity of the lineage of Gaius Caesars who have continually reproduced the regimes and fates of their fathers and grandfathers before them. However, precisely because Caesarian rule is circular and repetitive, members of the Roman populace “proposed that the memory of the Caesars be done away with and their temples destroyed” (497). Suetonius figures the Caesarian dynasty as a circle in order to suggest that the dynasty will bring about its own end.           

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Figurative Reading: Gorgias, Encomium of Helen

Trevor Greenan
Rhetoric 103A
26 November 2016
Figurative Reading: Gorgias, Encomium of Helen
            In absolving Helen from responsibility for the events of the Trojan War in the Encomium of Helen, Gorgias lays out four potential causes of her leaving for Alexander, the third of which is persuasive discourse. To justify Helen’s innocence in the case or her persuasion, he relies on an analogy between discourse and a pharmacopoeia.
Before discussing the implications of discourse as pharmacopoeia, Gorgias first criticizes the objective interpretation of memory and discourse, arguing that memory is inherently imperfect and incomplete, and that as a result, “Those who have persuaded and do persuade anyone about anything are shapers of lying discourse” (par. 11). This serves to establish knowledge as incomplete, creating room for Helen to have been convinced by this persuasive discourse without even being made aware of the implications of her actions, potentially absolving her of any explicit wrongdoing. This conception of memory and knowledge is furthered by the metaphor of opinion as an advisor to the soul. As Gorgias states, “…most people on most subjects furnish themselves with opinion as advisor to the soul. But opinion, being slippery and unsteady, surrounds those who rely on it with slippery and unsteady successes” (par. 11).  This metaphor imagines people’s decision-making processes not as the result of some objective consideration of the information before them, but rather as mobilized by a subjective understanding of the world that is inherently flexible and fluid.
The implications of this understanding of opinion as an advisor are further developed in Gorgias’ examples of how discourse can shape the soul, particularly for the first and third examples. The first describes how the discourses of astronomers “setting aside one opinion and building up another in its stead make incredible and obscure things apparent to the eyes of opinion” (par. 13). This exemplifies Gorgias’ notion that opinion is an ever-shifting form of understanding the world, showing that entire systems of viewing reality can be replaced by specific discourses. The third example discusses competing arguments of philosophers and how their discourse “renders changeable the credibility of an opinion” (par.13), highlighting the fluidity within particular opinions and the extent to which they fall short of being objective.

These conceptions of opinion lay the groundwork for the discussion of the power of discourse, by laying out examples of its influence and by weakening the understanding of knowledge and decision-making as resulting from objective calculations. The comparison of discourse to pharmacopoeia serves to cement this understanding by providing the framework with which the viewer is to understand the mechanisms by which discourse acts. Gorgias states: “For just as different drugs draw off different humors from the body, and some put an end to disease and others to life, so too of discourses: some give pain, others delight, others terrify, others rouse the hearers to courage, and yet others by a certain vile persuasion drug and trick the soul” (par. 14). This description, first of all, provides a clearer illustration of discourse in action, describing it in more clearly understandable terms that can be visualized in relation to a visual body. He also posits the soul as comparable to the body, imagining a passive entity that can be altered by particular external factors. This separates Helen’s action from any particular will or inherent badness that might be attributed to her; instead, she is portrayed as helpless and succumbing to the same kind of persuasion that any individual would also face. In the same way that medicine would have equivalent effects on most people, discourse is presented as a tool to be wielded to create particular alterations in the soul.

Figurative Analysis On The First Oration Against Catiline

Jorge Rico Vera
Rhetoric 103A
November 16, 2016
GSI: Jerilyn Sambrooke

The First Oration Against Catiline, Figurative Analysis

As Cicero begins putting Catiline on trial in front of the consul, he states “you ought, O Catiline, to be put to death this instant”. Portraying the assumption that Cicero wants to sentence Catiline to death as a result of his actions. However, Cicero then has a change of heart on purpose by actually recommending and suggesting that Catiline should rather be banished from the republic. He believes that Catiline is a “plague” in the republic who is causing fear and wickedness to all of its citizens, including to himself. The figure created of Catiline as the plague, shapes all of the arguments that Cicero uses to condemn him and to persuade the consul to agree. Throughout the trial, Cicero maintains to be a principle exemplar to decide the fate of Catiline and the plague he represents by influencing the body/consul to agree with his proposal of banishment as the best possible option.
            “But if he banishes himself, and takes with him all of his friends, and collects at one point all the ruined men from every quarter, then not only will his full-grown plague of the republic be extinguished and eradicated, but also the root and seed of all future evils”, states Cicero. This particular argument by Cicero allows him to attach the figure of a plague to Catiline, a disease that needs to be dealt with in order to stop its expansion within the commonwealth. The plague represents evil, corruption, murders, robberies, sickness, wickedness, conspiracy and everything else that Catiline is associated with. These are some of major themes that Cicero uses to persuade the consul into believing Catiline to be a “plague” that has spread throughout the republic. In one of the statements by Cicero, he mentions that Catiline summons the destruction of temples and immortal gods, along with planning to murder all members of the consul and the chief of men of the state. These statements make a personal connection with the consul to provoke fear within them, thus allowing them to understand and see that Catiline does cause fear with his actions to all people within the republic and resulting as a major threat by this disease. Cicero’s arguments seem legitimately to the consul and are reinforced by their silence. No one objects the arguments being brought upon Catiline and the plague he represents; this action allows Cicero to continue condemning Catiline without any interruptions. Hence amplifying Cicero’s confidence and power of consulship during the trial.
            Noticing the full attention and agreement by the consul, Cicero enhances his argument by stating that Catiline is also the root of the plague and the disease that exist in the republic. He mentions that Catiline’s power and control allowed the plague to spread throughout Italy, then to other parts of the republic. The results of this expansion have caused a tremendous amount of fear and wickedness that threatens the sustainability of the current government and that includes the consul who is taking part of the trial. This particular part of Cicero’s argument further more amplifies the image of the plague to the consulship, persuading them agree with Cicero. The real threat of Catiline exist within his body, as he carries the plague within him. The plague’s disease has been caught by his loyal followers and friends, implanting a seed of evil within them that works as a motive to carry out Catiline’s vision of taking over the government. This is a deadly effect because sentencing Catiline to death will not end the plague. Instead, the plague will continue to live within those who already have the disease. Members of republic may also not be convinced that Catiline was a threat, causing resentment towards Cicero and affecting his political power. Keeping these outcomes in mind, Cicero uses that to once again persuade the consul into agreeing to the removal of Catiline from the republic.

            With the banishment from the republic, Catiline’s friends and followers will soon leave as well in order to follow the one who has created the “plague”, the one in which the poison lives within the strongest. They must be fed by this poison to continue the vision of Catiline, thus the removal of Catiline will remove all future evils and all corrupt men because they will leave along with him. Cicero states, “But the danger will settle down and lie hid in the veins and bowels of the republic…will only get worse and worse, as the rest will be still alive”, to oppose sentencing Catiline to death and reinforcing the banishment proposal. The statement once again is approved by the consul’s silence, amplifying Cicero’s power to decide the fate of Catiline. Cicero used the figure of a plague to develop his arguments and persuading the consul to agree with him. The effect of creating an image of a disease that is poisonous resulted extremely effective in enhancing Cicero’s consulship power along with influencing some of the most powerful men of the republic without any objections.