Author’s Note: Liberalism is a Sophist construct. It attempts to move men’s souls through base rhetorical means. It denies the reality of noble rhetoric. It attempts to force men to do as they are told. It denies men the right to choose for themselves. It behooves us all to more clearly understand the nature of rhetoric.
In this article I attempt to show a theory that the rhetorical means by which men’s souls are moved (persuaded) conforms to something approximate to Sir Isaac Newton’s Three Laws of Motion. The ancient Greeks lost their way and their classical civilization crumbled as they allowed themselves to be moved by sophistry. Perhaps, if we learn some rhetorical theory, that same fate might be avoided in our time.
[Rhetoric is] the lore of the rhetor.─James Murphy
[Science is] what scientists do.─Robert Proctor
The quotes above serve as a preamble to R. Allen Harris’ Rhetoric of Science. The key point is that they are listed as mutually exclusive. Harris argues that “there is no such thing as the rhetoric of science…but there is, carefully denuded of specificity, rhetoric of science.” I propose that the reverse is also true. The science of rhetoric may not exist but certainly there exists science of rhetoric. Rhetoric, according to Murphy, belongs to the rhetor. But what does the rhetor hope to accomplish with this ancient discipline? The primary purpose of rhetoric, according to Richard M. Weaver in Rhetoric is Sermonic, is to initiate movement of the soul. “The rhetorician hopes that words will move man,” says Weaver. To illustrate this assertion I will analyze Plato’s concept of the motion of the soul juxtaposed with Sir Isaac Newton’s Three Laws of Motion – a foundational basis for the science of classical physics. Physics, in both classical and theoretical forms, is concerned with time, space, motion, and matter. Conversely, “rhetoric is the study of suasion.” Rhetoric seeks to persuade a soul, which leads to conviction, and, once conviction is achieved, action is demanded on the part of the soul so convinced. This action is referred to by Plato as the motion of the soul.
Imagine yourself holding a string which has a writing pen tied to one end of it. Now imagine you are causing the pen to swing like a pendulum. Is the pen moving? Yes? No? Well, logically, the pen can’t move. It can’t move where it is because it is already there. And it can’t move where it isn’t – because it isn’t there to move. Therefore, the pen can’t move. The argument is logical – it is valid. However, the truth of the matter is that the pen really is moving despite the validity of the syllogism. Motion in the physical realm is not governed by logic. It is governed by the laws of physics including Sir Isaac Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, Johannes Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion, the Principle of Entropy, the Principle of Inertia, the Principle of the Conservation of Motion, the General Theory of Relativity, and the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics. Motion also exists in Plato’s rhetorical world, and there is evidence, which we will examine, that the rhetorical movement of the soul is also governed by as-yet-undefined laws, approximately equivalent in function to those laws governing movement in the physical realm. I propose that there exist Three Laws of Rhetorical Motion and that there is little difference in the laws of motion between the temporal (physical) world and the rhetorical realm.
Nature of the Soul
In Plato’s Phaedrus we are taught the concept of a soul exhibiting signs of life because it is in motion – and then we are taught the ramifications that this movement has on the practice of rhetoric – persuading the soul to engage in self-movement – in a desired direction expressed by the rhetorician.
At risk of quoting an overly long passage, I give you this excerpt from Phaedrus, in which Socrates says:
“Every soul is immortal. For that which is ever moving is immortal: but that which moves something else or is moved by something else, when it ceases to move, ceases to live. Only that which moves itself, since it does not leave itself, never ceases to move, and this is also the source and beginning of motion for all other things which have motion. But the beginning is ungenerated. For everything that is generated must be generated from a beginning, but the beginning is not generated from anything: for if the beginning were generated from anything, it would not be generated from a beginning. And since it is ingenerated it must be also indestructible, for if the beginning were destroyed, it could never be generated from anything nor anything else from it, since all things must be generated from a beginning. Thus that which moves itself must be the beginning of motion. And this can be neither destroyed nor generated, otherwise all the heavens and all generation must fall in ruin and stop and never again have any source of motion or origin. But since that which is moved by itself has been seen to be immortal, one who says that this self-motion is the essence and the very idea of the soul, will not be disgraced. For every body which derives motion from without its soulless, but that which has its motion within itself has a soul, since that is the nature of the soul: but if this is true – that that which moves itself is nothing else than the soul – then the soul would necessarily be ungenerated and immortal.”
Dougal Blyth argues that first we must specify what definition we will use for soul. “The three possible meanings… are (i) every individual soul, (ii) one comprehensive world soul, or (iii) some common aspect of all living things, which despite the mortality of psychophysical individuals, would be immortal in itself.” For the purposes of this paper we will limit ourselves to a definition of soul as an individual soul – except that during the discussion of theoretical physics we will expand on that definition to include the world soul and divine soul. Obviously, the concept of motion of the soul can be extended to the other definitions but that will remain the purview of future research.
Friedrich Solmsen provides additional insight into the nature of the soul as he defines soul to mean psyche. “…the supreme value attached to the soul resulted from a synthesis of the previously distinct religious and secular traditions about psyche. What remains open to doubt is whether this synthesis should be attributed to Socrates or whether, rather than Socrates, it was Plato who brought together and fused the two traditions.” Solmsen offers this further clarification. “The Phaedo is the dialogue where after some earlier yet less determined turns in that direction the synthesis between the secular and the religious tradition of psyche is definitely established. The belief that the body is but a temporary home of the psyche which existed before it and will survive it is accepted by Plato but transformed both in its mythical and in its rational aspects.”
Practicing the art of rhetoric through poetry, the poet Wordsworth, in his Intimations of Immortality, agreed with Plato’s conclusion that man’s individual souls began with movement from a premortal existence.
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.
The concept of motion denoting life was one of Plato’s foundational observations. From this observation he built his theory of rhetoric moving the soul. It is interesting to note that in 1687, two millennia after Phaedrus, Sir Isaac Newton gave us his famous Three Laws of Motion in Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, as explained by Richard S. Westfall in Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton, teaching concepts which, according to Phaedrus, appear to have implications for the soul as well as the physical universe. To paraphrase Newton’s Laws of Motion:
- Every object persists in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed on it.
- Force is equal to the change in momentum (mV) per change in time. For a constant mass, force equals mass times acceleration. F- m a
- For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
It is quite reasonable to assume that Newton was intimately familiar with Plato’s Phaedrus and that his formulation of the laws of motion could have been influenced by the rhetorical conversation between Socrates and Phaedrus, as recorded by Plato. Classical education in Newton’s day emphasized logic, rhetoric, and theology – all concepts discussed at length by Plato. In fact, Newton mentions “the ancients” in the first three words of Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica.
Plato, a scientist as well as a rhetorician, can reasonably be argued to have created his own three laws of motion to govern the human soul:
- A soul persists in its state of rest or uniform motion unless it is compelled to change that state by rhetorical forces impressed on it.
- The rate of change of momentum of a soul is proportional to the force of the rhetoric acting on the soul and is in the same direction.
- For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction of the soul.
The First Law of Rhetorical Motion
Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion decrees that every object persists in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed on it. In the rhetorical sense, an equivalent law would be a soul remaining either at rest or continuing in its present state of motion unless external rhetorical forces influence new or modified motion to occur.
Weaver explains that “rhetoric is designed to move men’s feelings in the direction of a goal. As such, it is concerned not with abstract individuals, but with men in being. Moreover, these men in being it has to consider in relation to forces in being.” We will now examine these forces and their impact on the soul of man.
Let us assume, for the purpose of argument, ignoring Plato’s assertion that a living soul without movement is an oxymoron, that there exists a living soul which is in a state of zero motion. Such a soul is in the proper state upon which rhetorical experiments or tests could be performed for the purpose of observing the effect of the applied rhetoric to the soul’s potential motion.
The first test is to do nothing. No external rhetorical stimulus is applied to the soul. We define rhetorical stimulus to be applied speech input to a soul to invoking an action (or reaction) from the soul. Weaver acknowledges this is a purpose for rhetoric. “Every speech which is designed to move is directed to a special audience in its unique situation.”
We calculate that if the soul remains at rest in the continued absence of externally-applied rhetoric that the principles of inertia and entropy are confirmed. If, conversely, the soul initiates motion on its own – without external stimulus, then the principles of inertia and entropy do not apply to the laws of rhetorical motion. Also applicable is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This concept has been explored by Daniel Marder.
“The Second Law of Thermodynamics demonstrates the idea of entropy, the tendency of ordered energy to free itself and thus break apart the system that contains it and dissipate that system into chaos. When applied to communications theory, entropy increases not only with noise but with the density of information–particles of possible meaning crowded into a channel at too high a rate for the receiver’s decoding ability. Entropy is lowered by redundancies (familiar information) which allow the receiver to anticipate and thus comprehend what will be said next. Entropy is a metaphor in physics and chemistry and a metaphor built on a metaphor in communications theory, where the idea of noise substitutes for the unavailable energy, which is then calculated mathematically and not measured empirically. By examining the idea of entropy, rhetorical theorists can avoid the particular limitations analogical thought tends to establish and explore qualitatively the factors that tend to disorder and to order in rhetorical systems.”
We perform the experiment by doing nothing. Nothing happens. Given the evidence above, we can conclude that the absence of rhetorical stimulus on a non-moving living soul induces no movement to occur. This condition has also been observed in, of all places, advertising. There was once a television commercial that said “Imagine if there was no advertising. Nothing would happen.” It is unknown if the anonymous author of this message was academically well versed in rhetorical theory but it is apparent that the concept of lack of rhetorical stimulus producing no action was very well understood.
Stimulus can be applied to the soul through any of the senses, not just through rhetorical means. Rhetorical stimulus is sent to the soul primarily through the senses of hearing and sight. Therefore a test of the effects of the lack of rhetorical stimulus would in effect be a test of sensory deprivation. The effects of sensory deprivation on the human mind (soul) have been exhaustively studied. For example Stuart Grassian, M.D., of the Harvard Medical School, has studied sensory deprivation since 1977. According to Dr. Grassian, the psychological effects are predictable and well understood.
“The restriction of environmental stimulation and social isolation…are strikingly toxic to mental functioning, producing a stuporous condition associated with perceptual and cognitive impairment and affective disturbances.”
Grassian’s research included subjects who were isolated in the following ways: prison inmates in solitary confinement, prisoners of war, hostages, aviators exposed in-flight to periods of restricted auditory and visual stimulation, Arctic and Antarctic inhabitants, explorers on solo voyages, eye-patched patients, recuperating cardiac patients, hearing impaired individuals, and long-distance truck drivers. Though the type of isolation varied among subjects, Grassian found that a constant was the predictability of mental dysfunction as a result of sensory deprivation. “His internal as well as external life is disrupted (and)…he develops a predictable group of symptoms, which might almost be called “disease syndrome.” It is impossible to completely deprive a living soul of sensory stimulus for experimental purposes without killing the test subject. For example a person who breathes can feel the air rushing by in his throat. Eliminating the stimulus would kill the test subject. But scientists have been able to significantly reduce the level of stimulus – and the results have always been the stuporous condition Grassian mentions. The greater the lack of stimulus the more pronounced the effects become. Similar examples could be cited but there is no point to it. The message is already perfectly clear – a theoretical complete lack of rhetorical stimulus results in a corresponding theoretical zero movement of the soul.
Now we perform a second test. This time rhetorical stimulus is applied to the soul. This is a much better understood condition – well familiar to Plato. Speaking of Plato’s well-known description of the charioteer and horses, Blyth says “The distinction between the effect of the somatic principle in divine and in human soul is portrayed by the inability of any human chariot’s horses ever to rise beyond the heavenly surface (at best only the driver’s head can); whereas the gods’ chariots, horses and all, stand upon that surface as the driver surveys true being. I suggest that divine soul’s connection with body, whereby it can govern the corporeal cosmos, might be signified by the stabling and immortal fodder of the gods’ horses, following their journey back from the divine vision. This would imply that the motive aspect of divine soul has a distinct need to be fulfilled as a result of the journey of divine contemplation, specifically in relation to the home of the gods within the cosmos, and not in the transcendent realm.” Note that Blyth observes that the soul has a motive aspect to it and that the application of rhetorical stimulus (the journey of divine contemplation) results in the soul’s demand that an acquired need, now internal to the soul, is actively seeking fulfillment – i.e., movement of the soul is necessary in order to meet that need which was introduced to the soul through the rhetorical stimulus.
It is noted that different souls can respond to the same rhetorical stimulus in varying ways – expressing different motion in response to the identical rhetorical stimulus. This condition manifests compliance with both the First and Second Laws of Rhetorical Motion, i.e., a) the soul remains at rest until acted upon by an external force and b) the exact nature of the motion of the soul is a voluntary action in response to the rhetorical stimulus. Each soul has the choice of how it will respond (move) in reaction to the application of rhetorical stimulus. Foucault made this point by explaining that subjects have the freedom of choice from among various courses of action in response to the dictates of power.
Lastly, it should be noted that the principles of entropy and inertia were discovered prior to Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of his Three Laws of Motion. Newton’s First Law of Motion is based on these principles. Therefore, compliance of rhetorical motion with the principles of entropy and inertia is inherently compatible with Newton’s First Law of Motion as well as the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
The Second Law of Rhetorical Motion
Sir Isaac Newton’s Second Law of Motion states that the rate of change of momentum of a body is proportional to the resultant force acting on the body and is in the same direction. The rhetorical equivalent would be that the rate of change of momentum of a soul is proportional to the force of the rhetoric acting on the soul and is in the same direction.
We must precede further analysis by first clarifying a key term – acceleration. There exists a widespread misunderstanding of the meaning of this word. The common, and incorrect, understanding is that acceleration defines an increase in velocity. Consequently, the throttle on a car (the common gas pedal) is sometimes referred to as the “accelerator.” A more accurate understanding of the term is achieved when one grasps the concept that acceleration means a change in the rate of velocity with respect to time. Therefore, a brake pedal could also accurately be referred to as an “accelerator” pedal as it, too, causes the vehicle to effect a change in its rate of velocity.
The second aspect of this law is that the external force applied to the soul influences the direction of motion in direct relationship to the angle of the force being applied to the soul. Therefore, our hypothesis in respect to the Second Law of Rhetorical Motion is that a soul exposed to rhetoric is affected in two ways; (1) rhetoric affects a change in acceleration which is quantified by the extent of action taken by the soul in response to the external rhetorical stimulus, and (2) the nature of the rhetoric (for example, positive or negative reinforcement) will alter the direction of the motion of the soul’s actions based upon persuasion that led to conviction.
There is a fine distinction to make at this point. Rhetorical stimulus does not force (compel) a soul to move. Rather, a more appropriate understanding would be that the use of rhetoric “entices” the soul toward self-movement. The key concept is that the movement originates as a willful act within the soul and is expressed through actions of the body. It must be understood that the movement is the decision of the soul – the movement is a voluntary action undertaken by the soul in response to input from rhetorical stimulus. “Is not rhetoric in its entire nature an art which leads the soul by means of words?” asks Socrates of Phaedrus. Richard Sorabji evaluated Aristotle’s writing on this subject to equate this voluntary movement to the desires of the soul – “and it is only desire for the means which is directly an efficient cause of action.” Sorabji, therefore, acknowledges that the desire of the soul is the “only” cause of action – external stimulus is not mentioned as being the force which causes the action, only the desires of the soul. Speaking of the exercise of power – Michel Foucault concurs: “It is a total structure of actions brought to bear upon possible actions; it incites, it induces, it seduces, it makes easier or more difficult…” Note that Foucault lists various methods of persuasion, all of which imply freedom of movement on the part of the soul(s) to which the influence of power is applied. It is still the soul’s prerogative to move in a direction of its own accord.
Freidrich Solmsen goes so far as to claim that not only does the soul move the body but that it has an obligation to do so. “The human soul, or at least its immortal part, is meant to return to its original abode in the heavenly area, and our task in life is to bring the operations of soul’s best part, mind, into conformity with those of the cosmic model, assimilating our intelligence to the perfection grasped by it and turning the disorder within ourselves into order.”
Having established that souls move the body we now turn our attention to the rate of change of velocity of the soul. This naturally moves us to a study of time as the rate of change in velocity is measured in reference to time. Catherine Rau criticizes Plato’s concept of time, which she maintains was quite undeveloped, even for the age in which he lived. “Plato’s metaphysical commitments prevent him from taking time seriously…Plato never discussed time in complete earnest; he even indulges, in the Statesman, in a childishly fantastic myth of periodic reversals of the course of time in the universe. His account in the Timaeus of the creation of the universe and the beginning of time is also mythology; indeed, he gives explicit warning that the views on the material world expressed in this dialogue are to be taken as only probable.” Conversely, Aristotle, had much to say about the nature of time. “He mentions the notions that time is the motion of the heavenly sphere and that it is the sphere itself…Aristotle examines and rejects the view then current that time is motion in general…Aristotle raises the problem of the existence of time. The past has been and no longer exists; the future is going to be and does not yet exist. The present, which is no more than the dividing line between past and future, is continually shifting, that is, ceasing to exist. How then can time be?”
Fortunately, our concept of time is much further advanced than what it was in the 6th century B.C. G. Windred, in her treatise, The History of Mathematical Time, states “Just as a line may be regarded as an aggregate of mathematical point, so it is the same thing…if Time be supposed to consist of Instants, or of innumerable small Times. Some of the latest researches in mathematical physics seem to show that Time actually consists, in so far as physical phenomenon are concerned, of “atoms of time” having values in the order of 4.5 x 10-24 seconds, that is to say, four and a half million million million millionths of a second: quite small enough…” . So, if time actually exists for an instant, however, small, then a soul has the capacity to move within that “present” state. In other words, because the reality is that the “present” does exist, movement can be initiated simply because it exists. The soul can not create action in the past, it has already happened. It can not create action in the future though it can plan to do so. The action has to be realized in the present. Note that time marches on. The “atoms of time” are so short in duration that the soul can create long series of actions spanning less than a second (dropping a spoon, for example) to changing attitudes on a particular subject (might take a lifetime).
Continuing our discussion of the changing rate of motion of the soul we now address the variable intensity, or force of rhetoric, as that is an inherent factor in the equation of the Second Law of Rhetorical Motion.
Weaver makes the case that there exists in rhetorical discourse a wide range of variability in the rhetorical force and also that the direction of the rhetorical force applied to the soul varies in its angle of influence upon the soul. “Sophistications of theory cannot obscure the truth that there are but three ways for language to affect us. It can move us toward what is good; it can move us toward what is evil; or it can, in hypothetical third place, fail to move us at all.” Weaver then notes that the angle of the rhetorical force can be applied from all possible directions. “Rhetorical language…excites interest and with it either pleasure or alarm. People listen instinctively to the man whose speech betrays inclination. It does not matter what the inclination is toward, but we may say that the greater the degree of inclination, the greater the curiosity or response.” In other words, though there are two opposites (good and evil), various angles (inclination), i.e., degrees, of rhetoric can be applied, leading an audience toward one or the other in direct or indirect movement. Having established the various directions (good vs. evil) Weaver continues his analysis, recognizing that the intensity of the rhetorical force is also variable. “Of course there are numberless degrees of effect under the first two heads, and the third, as will be shown, is an approximate rather than an absolute zero of effect.” Note that Weaver uses the word “degree” in two different ways. His first meaning, taken in context, is that degree means the angle of the rhetoric in relation to either good or evil. His second application of the word is used to describe the intensity of the rhetoric force, regardless of the angle or inclination.
In rhetoric the variability can occur in two major ways; (1) the duration and/or intensity of the rhetorical stimulus and (2) the ethical or moral basis of the rhetorical stimulus. Plato, recognizing the perversion of rhetoric by the Sophists, wrote Phaedrus as a counterpoint to Sophistry. The title of the work itself demonstrates Plato’s theory that rhetoric could be used for good – “Phaedrus or On the Beautiful; Ethical.” Plato, in his title is claiming that rhetoric can be beautiful and ethical – practiced as a positive influence as opposed to this acknowledgement that the negative was the realm of the Sophists.
There appear to be three main categories of motivation inspiring men to voluntary compliance with law. All three categories persuade souls to action but the rhetorical motion involved varies in intensity according to the desires of the soul; (1) Fear. Souls comply with a law based upon their fear that noncompliance will bear negative consequences; in this instance the soul has no desire to conform except the desire to avoid punishment. (2) Duty. Souls feel an obligation to perform an act but the act is performed perfunctorily, without passion, and (3) Love. Plato’s Beautiful Ethical. The soul is being true, striving for the good, and sees this as the “ultimate end and goal of all life” .
“Soul drives everything in heaven, on earth, and in the sea by its own motions, the names of which are wanting, considering, caring, deliberating, guessing correctly and incorrectly, in joy and in grief, with courage and in fear, in hatred and in love, and by all related and originating motions it then takes over the secondary motions of body and drives everything to growth and decay, separation and mixture, and what follows from these, heating and cooling, weight and lightness, rough and soft, white and black, bitter and sweet, and by everything which soul uses, when it directs its reason always as a god properly to the gods, it raises everything right and happy, but when it associates with irrationality it then makes everything quite the opposite.”
Brian D. Ellis offers an example of the variableness of the force. “The longer a body is allowed to fall, the greater the impressed force which acts upon it. Why else should he [Newton] say “in equal intervals of time,” if he did not contemplate that in unequal time intervals, different quantities of motive force would be impressed?”
According to Weaver “Rhetoric must be viewed formally as operating at that point where literature and politics meet, or where literary values and political urgencies can be brought together. The rhetorician makes use of the moving power of literary presentation to induce in his hearers an attitude or decision…As rhetoric confronts us with choices involving values, the rhetorician is a preacher to us, noble if he tries to direct our passion toward noble ends and base if he uses our passion to confuse and degrade us. Since all utterance influences us in one or the other of these directions, it is important that the direction be the right one…”
So we see that intensity of movement varies, the angle varies (Sophistry verses the Beautiful Ethical) and that movement originates from within the soul. All of these concepts have their physical equivalents in Sir Isaac Newton’s Second Law of Motion.
The Third Law of Rhetorical Motion
This is a law of reciprocal actions. The Third Law of Rhetorical Motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction of the soul. Newton’s equivalent law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The only difference is that in Newton’s law the implication is that the action is created by or influenced by a physical body and in the rhetorical law it is the soul that is moved.
Weaver recognized the concept of opposing rhetorical forces. “As we look now for the parallel in language, we find ourselves confronting the second of the three alternatives: speech which influences us in the direction of what is evil.. This we shall call base rhetoric because its end is the exploitation which Socrates has been condemning. We find that base rhetoric hates that which is opposed, or is equal or better because all such things are impediments to its will, and in the last analysis it knows only its will. Truth is the stubborn, objective restraint which this will endeavors to overcome. Base rhetoric is therefore always trying to keep its objects from the support which personal courage, noble associations, and divine philosophy provide a man.”
Michael Foucault, examining the ways in which power is exercised, acknowledged that communication involves opposing actions, or movements of the soul. “No doubt communicating is always a certain way of acting upon another person or persons. But the production and circulation of elements of meaning can have as their objective or as their consequence certain results in the realm of power” Foucault then proceeds to define the relationship of actors – power and subjects. “In effect, what defines a relationship of power is that it is a mode of action which does not act directly and immediately on others. Instead, it acts upon their actions: an action upon an action, on existing actions or on those which may arise in the present or the future.” In conclusion, Foucault states that “In effect, between a relationship of power and a strategy of struggle there is a reciprocal appeal, a perpetual linking and a perpetual reversal. At every moment the relationship of power may become a confrontation between two adversaries.”
Imagine Plato, riding his chariot high enough so that he could see into heaven and he could see God, also, in heaven. God also notices Plato and desiring Plato to join him, stretches out his hand and grasps Plato by his own outstretched hand. Assuming God and Plato weighed exactly the same, what would happen to God if He were to “pull” Plato into heaven? You would be correct if you ascertained that while Plato was being “pulled into heaven” that God would correspondingly be “pulled out of heaven”.
It could be argued that God would never deny Plato entrance to heaven by refusing to assist Plato by pulling him into heaven – a symbolic way of saying that Plato is seeking truth. This argument, however assumes that the acquisition of truth is compulsory – God forcing Plato into heaven. By extension that argument assumes truth is acquired through little or no effort of our own – acquired truth instead is dependent on bestowal upon man by a benevolent deity. But it is apparent on its face that the seeker of truth is typically the one who finds it, i.e., the soul must desire truth and search it out. If God is in the habit of forcing men to heaven then why aren’t we already there? Why haven’t we all discovered ultimate truth?
God, then, can still assist Plato in his quest, but not force him to heaven. Weaver explains this concept thusly: “If truth alone is not sufficient to persuade men, what else remains that can be legitimately added? In one of the exchanges with Phaedrus, Socrates puts the question in the mouth of a personified Rhetoric: “I do not compel anyone to learn to speak without knowing the truth, but if my advice is of any value, he learns that first and then acquires me.” Note that the assertion is that man acquires truth and then man takes it upon himself to acquire the source of the truth (God in Heaven).
Additionally, Foucault would argue that in a power relationship between God and man, God would not use compulsion to achieve his ends. “When one defines the exercise of power as a mode of action upon the actions of others…in the broadest sense of the term – one includes an important element: freedom. Power is exercised only over free subjects, and only insofar as they are free. By this we mean individual or collective subjects who are faced with a field of possibilities in which several ways of behaving, several reactions and diverse comportments, may be realized.”
Hence we see that there are souls to act and souls to be acted upon. An action influences multiple souls. One soul’s rhetorical stimulus, for example, is another soul’s action. It all depends on the viewpoint of the souls involved. In the physical world a perfect example of this law is a jet airplane. The pilot revs the engines (the thrust is pointing backwards) and the plane moves forward to take off.
The Third Law of Rhetorical Motion leads us to the concept of compulsion. There is a common phrase regarding the consequences of compelling men to do one’s bidding, “You can win the battle but lose the war.” Those who exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of men are fighting a losing war. Rhetoricians, including Foucault and Blyth, have long understood the concept of the soul necessarily being self-moving. “That the soul must constantly be in motion follows directly from the argument which identifies its nature as the characteristic of moving itself. By ceasing to move itself soul would cease to be itself (it would cease to be defined by an erotic relation). Soul is then like everything generated (the whole of heaven and earth) in being essentially in motion; however, it is unlike that in being ungenerated. In this respect it is like the forms; however, it is unlike them in being in motion.”
By way of further explanation, it is a requirement that a soul be self-moving. That is the only way to prevent the Third Law of Rhetoric from “pulling God from heaven.” The action to enter heaven has to originate from within Plato, not God. It is Plato’s responsibility to make his own way to heaven – hence his attempts via the chariot. If he moves himself to heaven then God is protected in that celestial realm. If God, though, chooses to “force” Plato into heaven then the equal and opposite reaction occurs and God loses contact with His own celestial home. If Plato is self-moving then the equal and opposite reaction is external to him. In the case of the chariot and horses the lifting towards heaven is accomplished by the downward force of the horses’ wings. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Frank Manley, in Moloch on Demonic Motion, states it thusly,
“In the great consult at the beginning of the second book of Paradise Lost, Moloch speaks first and recommends an all-out, suicidal assault on the heights of heaven. He speaks of some tropism, some mysterious inner principle of motion that apparently wafts them upward of its own accord…Besides the fact that it is obviously fallacious, based as it is on an argument a fortiori, there is something clearly wrong with this. The devils seem to understand what he is talking about…the motion he describes is no more true of angels or ex-angels than it is anything else in the world…for the motion Moloch is talking about comes only from the love of God. It is nothing less than the basic physical-metaphysical principle that bound the entire pre-Copernican universe together in a chain of love and directed everything in it upward toward God as toward the complete fulfillment of itself…it is a theory of gravity derived essentially from Plato, modified by Aristotle’s theory of motion and Christianity’s idea of God as first and final cause.”
Continuing with Weaver’s analysis:
“Any piece of persuasion, therefore, will contain as its first process a dialectic establishing terms which have to do with policy. Now a term of policy is essentially a term of motion, and here begins the congruence of rhetoric with the soul which underlies the speculation of the Phaedrus. In his myth of the charioteer, Socrates declares that every soul is immortal because “that which is ever moving is immortal.” Motion, it would appear from this definition, is part of the soul’s essence. And just because the soul is ever tending, positive or indifferent terms cannot partake of this congruence. But terms of tendency – goodness, justice, divinity, and the like – are terms of motion and therefore may be said to comport with the soul’s essence. The soul’s perception of goodness, justice, and divinity will depend upon its proper tendency, while at the same time contacts with these in discourse confirm and direct that tendency. The education of the soul is not a process of bringing it into correspondence with a physical structure like the external world, but rather a process of rightly affecting its motion.”
During the 20th-century classical physics found itself supplanted by new theories concerning movement in the physical realm. Thus was born the discipline of Theoretical Physics. In contrast to classical physics which employs experimentation, Theoretical Physics relies on mathematical models and abstractions of physics to comprehend the nature of motion, time, space, and matter. An exhaustive study of Theoretical Physics entails research of Astronomy, Quantum Mechanics, Quantum Field Theory, Dynamics, Electromagnetism, General Relativity, Particle Physics, Statistical Mechanics, Dark Matter, Condensed Matter Physics, Physical Cosmology, and Special Relativity.
Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, as an example of modern thought on motion, decrees that gravity (the attraction or motion of bodies to each other) is a manifestation of curved space and time, and that this curvature is produced by the mass-energy and momentum content of the space-time. His General Theory of Relativity is currently regarded as the de facto standard against which all other gravitational theories are judged. Einstein used his General Theory of Relativity to explain the movements of the cosmos; stars, planetary systems, and galaxies, etc. The General Theory of Relativity replaces the “view of the universe as made up of isolated objects acting upon one another at a distance with a model in which space itself was curved and changed by the presence and movement of objects.”
Plato, to his credit, seemed to have had some comprehension of the possibility that a theory of relativity would someday be discovered. Demonstrating Plato’s grasp of the physics of abstraction of motion, Shorey postulates that “Plato does not actually construct reality out of configured space. Space is the recipient, Plato says, in some marvelous and unexplained way, of forces, powers, potentialities, that enter into it from the world of Platonic Ideas, and the mathematical construction is solidified before it becomes an elemental atom or molecule.”
Plato, extending his theory of motion of the soul to the universe itself, expressed the view that the Divine Soul controls the motion of the cosmos. Blyth confirms this:
The causation of motion can be looked at in two ways; as originating in the forms themselves qua ends, as final causation; or from the point of view of that for which they are ends. I have argued that it is precisely the nature of soul to constitute and sustain the latter point of view in the cosmos…it is the form as apprehended by soul, rather than in itself, apart from soul, which causes motion. Moreover, to conceive of causation by the forms from any other point of view is not the perspective native to soul, and so can be disregarded as lacking self-self-knowledge. As the Phaedrus teaches, it is definitively the function of soul to apprehend the forms, in its divine “winged” state. The immortal rational soul moves itself toward the vision of the forms. Thereby soul becomes the actual cause of motion and the cosmos, and the nature of its causality is by seeking to possess the forms eternally to assimilate itself to them and so move itself, and in doing so to generate an image of its own divine possession in the order diversity of the cosmos.”
Plato’s explanation of the nature of soul includes individual souls, the World Soul, and Divine Soul. According to Plato each type of soul moves of its own accord within its own realm. Thus, the concept of the Divine Soul is compatible with the theories of the Theoretical Physicists – motion occurs not in a vacuum represented by individual bodies but as a system of bodies, influencing each other to engage in self-motion and the resulting motions interrelate to order the cosmic motion.
Justifying the concept of abstraction on a universal scale in rhetoric, Weaver maintains “the cosmos is one vast system of analogy, so that our profoundest intuitions of it are made in the form of comparisons. To affirm that something is like something else is to begin to talk about the unitariness of creation. Everything is like everything else somehow, so that we have a ladder of similitude mounting up to the final one-ness – to something like a unity in godhead. Furthermore, there is about this source of argument a kind of decent reticence, a recognition of the unknown along with the known. There is a recognition that the unknown may be continuous with the known, so that man is moving about in a world only partly realized, yet real in all its parts.” Therefore, we see a contemporary rhetorician theorizing in harmony with Plato about the abstraction of the cosmos and the role rhetoric plays in space-time.
In conclusion I reiterate the assertion that the motion of the soul is governed by laws just as immutable as those governing the physical universe. Plato recognized that both the physical world and the rhetorical soul are created by the same creator. It is logical that the same laws would apply in both spheres given that they share a common creator. To God, is there any difference? “It is interesting that Newton offers different kinds of arguments to show that the force is from some specific body rather than some arbitrary point.” In the rhetorical sense the only change is that the word “soul” is substituted for “body.
The temptation is to dismiss Plato as a bona fide source of scientific thought, but that notion is now being challenged. “Though there are honorable exceptions, it is currently taught that Platonism is the antithesis of the scientific spirit and that Plato is a reactionary in relation to the evolutionary and mechanistic philosophies of the pre-Socratics, and a dreamer, spinning the world out of his inner consciousness, as contrasted with the fact-loving Aristotle…The indictment, then is partly true of historical Platonism. But it does not fairly fit Plato. As an ethical religious teacher he uses the religious language and symbolism of his time precisely as that of their age is used by Schleiermacher, Renan, Matthew Arnold, Emerson, and the American men of science who protest that their brand of evolution is creative, emergent, or, in the latest phrase, holistic, and not mechanistic…It is not Plato who is unscientific, but the readers who are too uncritical or too impatient to apprehend his clear intentions.”
Weaver notes that “Rhetoric moves the soul with a movement which cannot finally be justified logically. It can only be valued analogically with reference to some supreme image. Therefore when the rhetorician encounters some souls “sinking beneath the double load of forgetfulness and vice” he seeks to re-animate it by holding up to its sight the order of presumptive goods. This order is necessarily a hierarchy leading up to the ultimate good.” I agree, we may not possess the Science of Rhetoric, but Science of Rhetoric definitely exists, and the movement of the soul is real, it moves towards one of the opposites (good – evil) and it does so in a systematic fashion.
Further research into this area will most likely yield additional evidence of laws governing the movement of the soul. Everything in nature bows in obedience to laws governing motion. Are souls exempt from these laws? No. Evidence suggests that rhetorical stimulus effects changes on souls in a predictable and orderly manner. Souls are moved in accordance to manifest laws of motion.
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