Three Modes of Persuasion in Plato’s Phaedo

What methods of persuasion does Plato depict Socrates using to attempt to convince his companions that death is nothing to be feared by a true philosopher?

death of socrates
Apr 05

About the Event

Presented by Basic Program instructors and open to all, these lectures also complement the texts and ideas from our curriculum and always include a Q&A session.

This First Friday Lecture is supported by gifts made in memory of Basic Program Instructor Claudia Traudt.

Plato’s dialogue Phaedo tells the story of Socrates’ last day, with Socrates holding a conversation with his friends in his jail cell as he is preparing to have his death sentence carried out.  Throughout the dialogue, Plato depicts Socrates attempts to convince his companions that death is nothing to be feared by a true philosopher, but it turns out that even his own closest friends and followers have a hard time accepting this idea, particularly in the face of Socrates’ immanent death. I will argue that Plato depicts Socrates using three different modes of persuasion – argument, myth, and action – in order to convince both the interlocutors in the dialogue as well as Plato’s readers, that a true philosopher does not fear death.        

Lecturer bio:  Zoë Eisenman started teaching in the Basic Program in 1992 and served as the Cyril O. Houle Chair from 2015-2020.  She has a BA in Greek from Vassar College and an MA in Classics from University of Chicago, where she has also done advanced graduate work. Her main academic focus is on Greek and Roman history and philosophy, Classical cultural history and gender studies. She taught in the College at the University of Chicago and in the Philosophy Department at St. Xavier University. She is the 2014 recipient of the Graham School’s Excellence in Teaching Award for the Basic Program and is currently Director of Academics at the Graham School.

Who's Speaking

Zoë Eisenman

Zoë Eisenman

Basic Program Instructor

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