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Jasso, John Joseph (2014) PSYCHAGOGIA: A STUDY IN THE PLATONIC TRADITION OF RHETORIC FROM ANTIQUITY THROUGH THE MIDDLE AGES. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation is a history of an idea that has endured in rhetorical theory from Plato to Weaver – the idea that rhetoric can lead souls to their own betterment; that is, guide them in an ascent along a metaphysical hierarchy through beauty, goodness, and truth to a fuller participation in being. This is a study of what Plato calls psychagogia. Comprising replicating hierarchies, the Platonic tradition saw intricate connections between cosmology, theology, psychology, and language. At the height of this tradition, St. Bonaventure notes that rational philosophy is consummated in rhetoric, indicating that such an inquiry transcends the disciplinary sub-field of “the history of rhetoric” and engages much larger issues concerning the nature of language, language’s relationship with human rationality, and its analogy with the divine.

Thus, this study maps the structural framework of the Platonic intellectual tradition from antiquity to the Middle Ages in order to identify the conditions necessary for rhetorical activity under a tripartite metaphysics. By comparing the parallel structures inherent in reality, language, and the mind, I contend that rhetoric plays a definitive role for the Platonist in the process of spiritual formation. Indeed, in some cases it represents the only machinery that humanity has to achieve intellectual, spiritual, and societal amelioration. But reality, knowledge, and language for the Platonist were all living things. So while I do not deny Plato’s rationalism, idealism, or realism in this study, I seek to investigate their interaction with his own skepticism, aestheticism, and above all, mysticism. The same is true for Augustine, Bonaventure, and the Platonic tradition as a whole. Such models as the Platonists provide can illustrate how philosophical tensions now thought to be in diametrical opposition can be brought into dialectical synthesis. The result is a truly organic intellectual framework that informs a rhetorical theory of equal vitality – a tripartite rhetoric, at once rational, spiritual, and emotive, culminating in the soul in a rhetoric of ascent.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Jasso, John Josephjjj19@pitt.eduJJJ19
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPoulakos, Johnpoulakos@pitt.eduPOULAKOS
Committee MemberMitchell, Gordongordonm@pitt.eduGORDONM
Committee MemberLyne, Johnjlyne@pitt.eduJLYNE
Committee MemberCopeland,
Date: 22 September 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 25 April 2014
Approval Date: 22 September 2014
Submission Date: 6 June 2014
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 308
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: History of Rhetoric, Platonic Psychology, Metaphysics of Language, Plato, St. Augustine, St. Bonaventure
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2014 20:03
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2019 05:15


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