The Rhetoric of Friendship in Plato's Lysis

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2006


Ancient Philosophy | Arts and Humanities | Classics | Philosophy | Rhetoric | Rhetoric and Composition


Rhetorical decisions, including the commitments of friendship and love, are responsive to the world without being determined by it. Therefore the dilemma: when we try to articulate our commitments we wind up talking either about ourselves – as though our decisions were not responsive to the world, but simply a matter of will – or about the evidence – as though our decisions were determined by the nature of things, reducing commitment to reason. The Lysis dramatizes the rhetorical nature of commitment by raising questions about the relation between being a friend and being able to talk about friendship and give reasons for one’s friendship.


DOI: 10.1525/rh.2006.24.2.127