II
The Rhetoric of Suicide

Suzanne Stern-Gillet

In this paper I intend to draw attention to one aspect of the concept of suicide, namely, what I shall call its "responsibility-ascribing" function. In view of the lively controversy generated by R. G. Frey's contention that Socrates committed suicide, 1 I shall use the case of Socrates as a convenient thread to run through my argument. Though I hope, in the process, to shed some light on the way we view the death of Socrates, it is not my main purpose in this paper to solve the problem of describing correctly his manner of death.

True enough, Socrates died, literally, "by his own hand": he knew what he was doing when he lifted the hemlock to his lips and he could (in one sense of "could," at any rate) have escaped into exile. Nevertheless I want to deny that most of us should want to call him a suicide. My ground is that any definition of suicide (such as Durkheim's or Frey's) which allows for Socrates' inclusion in this class is incomplete insofar as it blurs important distinctions between what are, in fact, different manners of viewing a person's death. To claim, as Frey does, that Socrates committed suicide amounts to a disregard of the practical function and, therewith, the rhetorical connotation(s) of the concept of "suicide."


Durkheim, Frey, and Holland

In Durkheim's words: "The term suicide is applied to all cases of death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim himself, which he knows will produce this result." 2 This definition, by doing away with motives and intentions, led Durkheim to term suicides acts which are not normally so clas-

____________________
From Philosophy and Rhetoric 20, no. 3 ( 1987): 160-70. Copyright 1987 by The Pennsylvania State University. Reproduced by permission of The Pennsylvania State University Press.

-118-

Notes for this page

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

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
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.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

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

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 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.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Suicide: Right or Wrong?
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

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
/ 335

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, 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."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.

    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.