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October 9, 2009

In Plato’s Phaedrus Socrates discusses with Phaedrus the nature of good writing and good speech. 

Oratory is the art of enchanting the soul, and therefore he who would be an orator has to learn the differences of human souls–they are so many and of such a nature, and from them come the differences between man and man.  Having proceeded thus far in his analysis, he will next divide speeches into their different classes:–“Such and such persons,” he will say, “are affected by this or that kind of speech in this or that way,” and he will tell you why.

The true rhetorician knows the natures of each human soul he addresses as they vary from person to person.  Only as the rhetorician knows the particular nature of a person is he capable of rightly fitting the correct speech to this person. 

It is the duty of a teacher to know the soul of each student in order that he or she might speak rightly to the student.  If I desire to teach my class and move their souls toward the good I must come to know the individual nature of each student so that I might rightly speak to each.

Orderly arrangement must follow a clear perception of the things to be arranged.  Knowledge of human nature as a whole is not enough; we must know the person we desire to educate just as we must know the substance of what we desire to teach.  Then are we able to fit the two together in a blessed union.


From → Education, Literature

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