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Chapter 6 - Friendship Terms in Plato

from Part III - Im/Politeness in Use

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 September 2022

Luis Unceta Gómez
Affiliation:
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Łukasz Berger
Affiliation:
University of Adam Mickiewicz, Poland
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Summary

This chapter examines friendship terms (e.g. phile, beltiste, daimonie) in Plato in the light of Brown and Levinson’s face-threat theory of politeness. It argues that every friendship term in Plato is polite redress for a specific face-threatening act, and aims to explain not only their general significance but also why they occur exactly when they do. The chapter examines Phaedrus in detail in order to show how friendship terms are associated with particular face-threatening acts, and supports the argument with a selection of passages from other dialogues. About 240 out of the 457 friendship terms in the corpus are either discussed in detail or explicitly linked to a specific face-threatening act, and the remaining examples should be readily intelligible in the light of this. Friendship terms are formally polite, in keeping with Socrates’ persona as represented in the dialogues, but also serve to emphasize face-threatening acts such as criticism and refutation. It is notable that there are no friendship terms in dialogues, or sections of dialogues, where overt face threat is avoided (e.g. the conversation with Gorgias in Gorgias).

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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