Volume 15, Issue 2, Spring 2011
Jeremy R. Bell
Empeiria kai Tribē
Plato on the “Art” of Flattery in Rhetoric and Sophistry
In this essay I trace the terms empeiria and tribē throughout the Platonic corpus in order to expose their central position within Plato’s critique of the sophists and rhetoricians. I find that these two terms—both of which indicate a knack or habitude that has been developed through experiential familiarity with certain causal tendencies—are regularly deployed in order to account for the effectiveness of these speakers even in the absence of a technē; for, what Plato identifies with these terms is the sophists’ and rhetoricians’ near masterful familiarity with and ability to manipulate the doxa and the dogma of the many, hoi poloi.