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Philosophical Analogy - Essay Example

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Philosophy is all-encompassing. The very nature of it makes it possible to make an impression on every aspect of life. It does then, becomes a daunting task to discuss in totality all principles, theories, assertions, arguments and standpoints of the four theorists in which this paper concerns of: Plato and Derrida, Aristotle and Foucault…
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Philosophical Analogy
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Download file to see previous pages While Plato was Aristotle's mentor, Foucault was once Derrida's teacher. Derrida and Foucault are both French philosophers who are part of 20th-Century-Western Philosophy. As would be expected, the latter philosophers would have a considerable amount of study on the works or references of the earlier theorists. Derrida's work Plato's Pharmacy is an attack to Plato's famous work Phaedrus. While Foucault counters Aristotle's "enduring substances" with his claim that everything is "historically contingent".
Plato's Phaedrus "is a rich and enigmatic text that treats a range of important philosophical issues, including metaphysics, the philosophy of love, and the relation of language to reality, especially in regard to the practices of rhetoric and writing" (Zuern par. 1). In this particular dialogue, Plato through the character Socrates (with his conversation with Phaedrus) shows explicit criticisms on the art of rhetoric and writing. He argues that rhetoric is not based on truth but that rhetoric practitioners can and will "make small things appear great and great things small", and adds that these people "have discovered how to argue concisely and at infinite length about any subject" and use "words' magic spell" (267). His stance is that, rhetoric is misleading and only aims to be persuasive to achieve its goal in whatever means, without being truthful. It is, as far as he is concerned, only dependent on language and words and not on truth.
What Plato favors and promotes is the use of his dialectical method, the method which is "capable of helping itself as well as the (person) who planted it" and "produces a seed from which more discourse grows in the character of others" (277). The idea is that, compared to rhetoric (writing), the dialectical method (speech), can construe clearer definitions by means of producing further discussions, which would validate or not the claim of truth, and thus, would achieve value, with the truth it is affirming and not merely by the rhetoric of writing.
This argument is deconstructed by Derrida in his work Plato's Pharmacy, where he centralizes his analogy on Plato's use of the term pharmakon in his works. With that analogy, Derrida highlights the ambiguity of Plato's distinction of the sophist's rhetoric from the philosopher's dialectical method. Derrida questions Plato's preference of "living" speech over "dead" writing.
To understand the way Derrida deconstructed Plato's Phaedrus, it is important to go back to the latter's work and analyze the way pharmakon was used. First off though, we have to establish what the term means prior to Plato's context. Pharmakon is "from a Greek word meaning both poison and cure" (Maslin par. 8). Thus, it has a neutral stance, it does not have a negative or a positive connotation attached to it. It can either be a harmful poison or a helpful medicine, making the word ambiguous and would only take its meaning depending on the context of its use.
The term is first encountered on Phaedrus, taking on a different form pharmacia. On their way to leave Athens, Phaedrus and Socrates came across the place where it was said that the mythic Oreithuia was taken away by Boreas. Socrates then goes to assume that perhaps "a gust of the North Wind blew (Oreithuia) over the rocks where she was playing with Pharmacia; and once she was killed that way people ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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