Plato & Rhetoric

25 April – 27 April 2014

Hiyoshi Campus of Keio University, Yokohama, Japan

The International Symposium “Plato & Rhetoric” was held on 25-27 April 2014 at the Hiyoshi Campus of Keio University in Yokohama, Japan. The conference was endorsed by the IPS as a Regional Meeting, and supported by the JSPS Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research Project, in cooperation with Keio University (Research Centre for Thinking and Behavioral Judgment, Global Research Centre for Logic and Sensibility) and Mita Philosophy Society. The Organizing Committee, Noburu Notomi (Keio University), Yuji Kurihara (Tokyo Gakugei University) and Satoshi Ogihara (Tohoku University), appreciate their kind supports.

This was the second international conference on Plato in East Asia. In 2-7 August 2010, the IX Symposium Platonicum was held at the Mita Campus of Keio University in Tokyo (Presidents: Shinro Kato and Noburu Notomi), in which over 260 scholars (130 from abroad) and 60 students participated to discuss Plato’s Politeia (Republic) for a week. This first conference has successfully shown that the study of Plato and Greek Philosophy is flourishing in Japan and is also rapidly developing in the other East Asian regions. Hoping to create more opportunities of international collaboration in this academic field in the East, we proposed an idea of another conference, much smaller but more intimate, at the General Assembly of the IPS Pisa Symposium. The organizing committee decided the topic “Plato & Rhetoric” for a dialogue between Western and Eastern philosophers and classicists.

We received a good number of abstract submissions and selected 26 papers in addition to 2 guest lecturers by Mauro Tulli (Pisa University, Italy) and Nam Duh Kim (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology, Korea). The speakers are from 18 countries all over the world: Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, the UK. and the USA. We are happy to know that they include many younger scholars and some graduate students working on Plato, in different places and academic backgrounds. We enjoyed discussion and communication with this truly international group for three days on the beautiful spring campus. Some 60 local scholars and students attended the conference.

 The conference started on the afternoon of the 25th of April with the introductory talk by Noburu Notomi, “Rhetoric: Why does it Matter for Plato?”. On the afternoon of the 27th, it was concluded at the final session, in which the organizing committee members summarized the various aspects and points exchanged through the conference, and discussed these achievements with all the participants.

Three papers were given at plenary sessions: Nicholas D. Smith (Lewis & Clark College, USA), Nickolas Pappas (City College of New York, USA), and Yuji Kurihara. The other papers were discussed at parallel sessions in two rooms.

At the opening session, Notomi introduced some basic questions to be discussed concerning Plato and rhetoric. The topic covers a wide range of dialogues from the early to the late, and is related to his contemporary thinkers (especially Gorgias and Lysias), and involves several philosophical issues: e.g. words and speech (logic), ways of life (ethics), persuasion (politics and law) and education. He argued that we should first identify what the real problem(s) of “rhetoric” is/are for Plato, in order to see its essential role in Plato’s philosophy. He also suggested that in the Asian cultures, “rhetoric” has different meanings, with which the Western tradition, strongly influenced by Plato, may be compared.

Despite several overlaps of the issues and dialogues, 28 papers are classified into 8 groups, whose list may indicate the variety and scope of the recent interests of Plato scholarship.

[1. Menexenus]

  • Mauro Tulli, “Dialogue and Rhetoric: Plato’s Menexenus
  • Yuji Kurihara, “Rhetoric and the Political Power of Philosophy in Plato’s Menexenus
  • Nickolas Pappas, “Improvisatory Rhetoric in the Menexenus

[2. Gorgias]

  • Masahito Takahashi (Kobe College, Japan), “Making Speeches about Justice: Rhetoric and the Socratic Elenchus”
  • Doug Al-Maini (St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada), “Platonic Politics in the Gorgias
  • Hua-kuei Ho (Chinese Culture University, Taiwan), “The Techne of Bewitchment—Poetry and Rhetoric in Gorgias and Plato’s Gorgias
  • You-shih Wang (University College, London, UK), “Illumination of Plato’s Logon Techne via the Reflection of Gorgias’ Rhetorical Art”
  • Alexei Gloukhov (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia), “Free Speech in Plato’s Gorgias
  • Andrew Scholtz (Binghamton University, USA), “The Rhetoric of Manhood in Plato’s Gorgias
  • Mostafa Younesie (Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran), “Reconsidering Plato’s Reception of Rhetoric in Gorgias
  • Katharine O’Reilly (King’s College, London, UK), “The Myth of the Water Carriers in Gorgias 492-3”

[3. Other early dialogues (Lysis, Protagoras, Ion, Meno)]

  • Nicholas D. Smith, “Socrates on the Emotions”
  • David Lévystone (Sungkyunkwan University, Korea), “Public or Private Speech. Socrates and True Oratory”
  • Matthew D. Walker (Yale-NUS College, Singapore), “Socrates on How to Converse with a Beloved”
  • Olof Pettersson (University of Bergen, Norway), “Idle Talk: Rhetoric and Dialectic in Plato’s Protagoras
  • Yumi Suzuki (University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong), “Socrates’ First Attempt at “Definitions” in Plato’s Meno 75b9-76e10: The Platonic Response to Gorgianic Rhetoric”

[4. Politeia (Republic)]

  • Nam Duh Kim, “Dialectic as Psychagogia in Plato’s Republic
  • Yoon Cheol Lee (Seoul National University, Korea), “Necessity of Rhetoric for Plato”
  • Eduardo Saldaña (University of Geneva, Switzerland), “What is Happening in Thrasymachus’ Soul?”

[5. Phaedrus]

  • Daniel Rossi Nunes Lopes (University of Sao Paulo, Brazil), “Plato’s Phaedrus as a Response to Gorgias’ Criticism to Rhetoric”
  • Yutaka Isshiki (Nihon University, Japan), “The Phaedrus: Unity and Rhetoric”
  • Jenny Bryan (University College, London, UK), “Lysias and Socrates in Plato’s Phaedrus

[6. Other middle dialogues (Symposium, Phaedo)]

  • Christian Keime (University of Paris-Sorbonne, France), “How to Do Dialectics with Rhetoric? Socrates’ Use and Transformation of Rhetorical Discourse in Plato’s Symposium
  • Yufeng Wang (Institute of Philosophy, Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, China), “Philosophy’s “Second Voyage” in Plato’s Phaedo

[7. Later dialogues (Statesman, Laws)]

  • Holly Moore (Luther College, Decorah IA, USA), “The Paradox of Paradigms: On the Mimetic Grounds of Philosophical Inquiry”
  • Myrthe Bartels (Leiden University, the Netherlands), “Lawgiving and Persuasion: The Power of Speech in Gorgias and Laws
  • Satoshi Ogihara, “Persuasion in Plato’s Laws

[8. Neoplatonist reception]

  • Bettina Bohle (FU Berlin, Germany), “The Neoplatonists Hermias and Olympiodorus on Plato’s Theory of Rhetoric”


“Plato and Rhetoric” seems to be new as a conference topic, and may have been neglected. Therefore, we hope that the conference makes a good start for developing discussion on this interdisciplinary and philosophically important subject. After fruitful and friendly discussions over 3 days, we talked about a possibility of a next international conference on Plato in Asia, hopefully to hold in a couple of years in Korea.


Noburu Notomi (Keio University, Japan)