The Rhetoric of Friendship in Plato's Lysis

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2006


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