'Phaedrus.' (the Rhetoric of Jacques Derrida, Part 2)

By Rinon, Yoav | The Review of Metaphysics, March 1993 | Go to article overview

'Phaedrus.' (the Rhetoric of Jacques Derrida, Part 2)


Rinon, Yoav, The Review of Metaphysics


IN MY PREVIOUS ESSAY, I concentrated on the importance for Derrida of regarding a text, qua text, as an ahierarchical phenomenon, and of the unity of contradictions necessary for a deconstructive reading.(1) In this essay I shall discuss in detail the realization of the latter principle in Derrida's reading of Plato's Phaedrus.(2) This will illuminate the problematic relationship between the deconstructive interpreter and his text. Since the path is long, the reader will need to follow me patiently through the different and sometimes tedious stages of the discussion. I shall begin with Plato's notions considering the origin:

The soul as a whole [[unkeyable]](3) is immortal, for that which is always in motion [[unkeyable]] is immortal. But that which is both a cause of movement for something else and is moved by something else is able to stop its moving, and therefore is able to stop being alive. Only that which moves itself ... is the beginning and the origin [[unkeyable]] of movement. Yet, it is an origin without a genesis [[unkeyable]]. For it is a rule of necessity that from the origin becomes all that exists while the origin itself becomes from nothing. For if the origin had become of something, it would no longer have been an origin ..., and since that which is moved by itself comes into being as immortal, one will not have to feel shame saying that this thing itself is the essence of the soul and its logos [[unkeyable]]. For any body which is moved by an external source is soulless, while the body which is moved by an internal source has a soul, since that is the essence of the soul's nature.... It is thus a rule of necessity that the soul would be without a genesis [[unkeyable]] in as much as it would be immortal. (245c5-246a2)(4)

The expression [unkeyable] is usually translated as "the soul's essence and definition."(5) Although the validity of this interpretation cannot be disputed, in a metaphysical context(6) one might prefer to preserve the Greek original, [unkeyable]. Thus, there is almost an identity between essence and logos,(7) and therefore a reaffirmation of what Derrida calls the "logocentric hierarchy." This logos is the uncreated origin, and as such the beginning of everything. It is not, however, identical to the logos which is contrasted to writing, since it is definitely not what one might call speech. It is quite similar, though, as can be seen from the repeated use of the word "logos." What is this logos, then?

The answer is found in the context. The passage preceding the one cited above makes a distinction between two types of soul: the human and the divine (245c3). In other words, Plato makes an internal division within the signifier "soul." The same technique is apparent here; we have, in fact, two kinds of phenomena under the heading of logos, and only the logos connected with the divine appears in the above section. The human logos is something different. This difference is marked in my analysis in the following manner: "Logos" refers to the divine Logos, and "logos" to the human logos. The division itself is far from new and the hierarchical aspects have been previously noted.(8) I give it emphasis here due to the fact that the Derridian avoidance of paying attention to such internal divisions will be revealed as a crucial element in his rhetoric.(9)

Somewhat later in the dialogue, when Socrates deals with the art of eloquence ([unkeyable]; 266c3), it becomes evident that an internal division within the category of the human logos is also needed. While the Sophists Thrasymachus and Lysias are mentioned in connection with dialectic, Socrates and his interlocutor are searching for the definition of a different kind of art: rhetoric. The latter, says Phaedrus, has "escaped our notice," and Socrates agrees that it should be discussed (266c8-d4). Here Phaedrus comments, "No doubt, what is written in the books about the art of eloquence [[unkeyable]] is quite long. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

'Phaedrus.' (the Rhetoric of Jacques Derrida, Part 2)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.