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Conversation Inspirations: Over Conversation Topics [Nancy Ellen Zelman, Raymond C. Clark, Patrick R. Moran] on *FREE* shipping on. Conversation Topics. Conversation Inspirations Over Two Thousand Conversation Topics - [PDF] [EPUB]. Conversation Inspirations Over Two. Conversation Inspirations - Download as PDF File .pdf) or read online. Speaking practice.

Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Need a fresh inspiration? This book of topics is a quick and easy source. Whether you want to choose topics for your class that are fun or provocative, that build an understanding of U. Read more Read less.

I tutor adult ESL students one-on-one, and have a hard time finding lesson ideas and conversation topics. This book has many great ideas! I was disappointed to see a large part of the book dedicated to role-playing because it's more group oriented, and I work with one student at a time , however, I was able to adapt it.

Great resource! That book drives you crazy You can find hundreds of topics to make your students speak such as role plays, interviews, talks, etc If you have a conversation class, you have to use it. Very good for conversation classes, private tutoring, or supplementation! I highly recommend this book for inspiration. It helps me all the time. I received my book in excellent condition and speedily.

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For that purpose it suffices to show that one esteemed poet writes without knowledge. If great poetry can come out of someone ignorant, then poetry must not require knowledge. Even if ignorance is not necessary for the composition of poetry Homer's example demonstrates that the two are compatible. What good will come of an activity that can not only be attempted ignorantly but even succeeded at in ignorance?

Poetry too therefore imitates no more than appearance. It remains for Plato to argue that poetry harms the soul.

He says that poetry's illusions fortify the worst part of the soul and turn it against the best. The first stretch of this argument c—b uses theoretical language—evidently taken from the Republic's psychological theory—while the second b—b appeals to observable phenomena surrounding performances of tragedies.

Socrates returns to his analogy between poetry and painting. If you are partly taken in by a painting's tricked-up table apparition but you partly spot the falseness, which part of you does which? The soul's rational impulse must be the part that knows the painting is not a real table. But Book 4 established a fundamental principle: When the soul inclines in more than one direction, this conflict represents the work of more than one faculty or part of the soul b; recalled in Book 10's argument at e.

So being taken in by an optical or artistic illusion must be the activity of some part of the soul distinct from reason. Invoking Book 4's psychological theory integrates the critique of poetry of Book 10 into the Republic's overarching argument. The dialogue as a whole identifies justice with a balance among reason, spirit or anger, and the desires collectively known as epithumiai.

This controlled balance is the happiest state available for human souls, and the most virtuous. Imitation undoes the soul's justice, it brings both vice and misery. Plato does not specify the irrational part in question. Thinking the sun is the size of your hand does not feel like either anger overwhelming you or desires tempting. What do illusions have to do with irrationality of motive?

Again commentaries differ. A complex and fertile debate continues to worry over how perceptual error may undermine mental health or moral integrity Moss , Nehamas Part of the answer comes from Books 8—9, which sketch four character types graded from best to worst.

Books 8—9 have not played the part they deserve to in the discussion of imitation. Those books make clear that the pleasures of the lowest soul are characterized by their illusoriness. Skiagraphia was an impressionistic manner of painting that juxtaposed contrasting hues to create illusionistic shadow and intensify color Keuls , Demand , and Plato disapproved of it Parmenides c—d, Phaedo 69b.

Notice especially the terminology in Book 9. The language in Book 10 brings Book 9's equation of base pleasures with illusory ones into its attack on art. If Book 10 can show that an art form fosters interest in illusions it will have gone a long way toward showing that the art form keeps company with irrational desires. Plato does not confine himself to analogizing from painting to verse. He recognizes that analogies encourage lazy reasoning.

So Socrates proposes looking at imitative poetry on its own terms, not just as a painting made of words b—c. He exerts himself to show that poetry presents false representations of virtue, often drawn from popular opinion about morality Moss , , and that because of their falseness those images nourish irrational motives until all but the finest souls in the audience lose control over themselves.

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An essential premise is that what Book 3 acknowledged as an exception to its critique, namely the imitation of virtuous and thoughtful characters, is not apt to exist. Socrates has tragedy in mind comedy secondarily and observes that playwrights neither know the quiet philosophical type nor profit from putting that type on stage before spectators who came to the theater to see something showily agitated e—a.

Being as he is impulsive and impassioned, the tragic hero behaves contrary to the dictates of reason. An illusion of virtue guides him. His son dies and he doesn't save his tears for a private moment but lets them flow publicly and at length e—a.

The spectators' reason is appalled; their other impulses rejoice c—e. Plato knows that even his upright contemporaries check their reason at the door when they enter the tragic theater. Vincent Rama used this phrase in conversation. They reckon that there is no harm in weeping along with the hero, enjoying the emotional release without the responsibility one feels in real-life situations.

Thus does dramatic illusion induce bad habits of indulging the passions; the soul that had spent its life learning self-control sets about unlearning it. When what we call literary works practice what we call representation, Plato claims that they represent human beings. Character is the essence of epic and drama. Halliwell argues otherwise. Plato's emphasis on character already predisposes him not to find philosophical worth in literature.

A character speaks from a single point of view. Bring several characters together representing several idiosyncratic perspectives on the world and the very idea of deriving a general statement from the work becomes impossible. Laws c—d elaborates upon this problem. Aristotle notably bases his own and laudatory appraisal of tragedy on the premise that tragedy imitates not people but actions.

From his privileging of plot over character Aristotle goes on to find general statements in poetry, philosophical ones. According to the standard chronology of the dialogues, the relevant passages occur in dialogues written after the Republic. If Plato changed his views over time, these conciliatory references to imitation could indicate that he ultimately disavowed the censorship of Republic Such likeness-making is not fraud, for its outcome remains something worthy of respect.

One can say the same for scientific theories in Plato's Timaeus, whose main speaker Timaeus argues that discourse about the natural world mimics the intelligible world 47c. The Laws sees imitation in music as a potentially accurate process b ; the hard-to-date Menexenus urges the young to imitate their elders' virtues e, e.

All these passages suggest, from different angles, a rehabilitation for the process that Plato elsewhere demeans as counterfeiting. What Plato says about imitation when he has set out to define and evaluate it ought to weigh more heavily than a use of the word he makes briefly.

Anyway the later dialogues do not speak as one. The Sophist looks into imitation in order to define what a Sophist is. And although the Sophist's theory of imitation diverges somewhat from the one in Republic 10, similarities between them preponderate.

Like the Republic the Sophist characterizes imitation mockingly as the creation of a whole world, and accuses imitation of misleading the unwary b—c , even if it also predicts more optimistically that people grow up to see through false likenesses d. Most importantly, the representation that Plato charges the Sophist with is fraudulent. It is the kind that makes not an honest likeness eikasia but an illusory image, a phantasma d—b.

In drawing the distinction between these kinds of representations the Sophist does strike a conciliatory tone not found in Republic 10, for it seems that a branch of the mimetic profession retains the power it has in the Laws and Timaeus to produce a reliable likeness of an object.

But the consolation proves fleeting. He recognizes that he has appropriated the general word for the specific act of enacting false images. Narrowing the process down to impersonation should make clear that Plato finds a Sophist's imitativeness to be much like a poet's. Just as Republic 3's taxonomy made imitation look like a freakish variety of narration, this use of a word both generically and specially excludes good imitation as the exception and the problem case.

The ancients did not work hard enough making all relevant philosophical distinctions d. His quest to condemn imitation leaves him open to criticism. But he does not consciously change his theory in the direction of imitation understood positively. But what could be metaphysically lower than a shadow? Coming back to the Republic one finds shadows and reflections occupying the bottom-most domain of the Divided Line a. Where does poetic imitation belong on that ranking?

One can articulate the same worry even remaining with the Republic's terms. Shadows and reflections belong in the category of near-ignorance. Imitation works an effect worse than ignorance, not merely teaching nothing but engendering a perverted preference for ignorance over knowledge. Plato often observes that the ignorant prefer to remain as they are Symposium a , but this turn toward ignorance is different.

Why would anyone choose to know less? The theoretical question is also a practical one. Plato's attack on poetry saddles him with an aesthetic problem of evil.

Republic 10 shows signs of addressing the problem with language of magic. The Republic already said that sorcery robs people of knowledge b—c.

Finally the catalog of Homer's kinds of ignorance ends by saying his poetry casts a spell b. Poetry works magically to draw in the audience that it then degrades. References to magic serve poorly as explanations but they bespeak the need for explanation.

Plato sees that some power must be drawing people to give up both knowledge and the taste for knowledge.

But what is striking about this deus ex machina that explains poetry's attractiveness is what it does not say. In other dialogues the magic of poetry is attributed to one version or another of divine inspiration.

Odd that the Republic makes no reference to inspiration when dialogues as different as the Apology and the Laws mention it and the Ion and the Phaedrus spell out how it works. Odder still, Plato almost never cites imitation and divine inspiration together the lone exception Laws c , as if to say that the two are incompatible accounts of poetry.

Will inspiration play a role ancillary to imitation, or do the two approaches to poetry have nothing to do with one another? At lucky moments a god takes them over and brings value to the poem that it could not have had otherwise. Inspiration of that kind is a common idea. Either a divine source provides the poet with information needed for writing the poem information about past events or the gods' lives, for example ; or more generally the source gives the poet the talent needed for writing anything.

In this case, by contrast with that of imitation, Plato finds a new use for an idea that has a cultural and religious meaning before him Ledbetter , Murray , Tigerstedt Plato's version of the idea, however, has proved to be durable and influential. The topic occurs throughout Plato's corpus. Platonic characters mention inspiration in dialogues as far apart—in date of composition; in style, length, content—as the Apology and the Laws, though for different purposes.

Socrates on trial tells of his frustrated effort to learn from poets. Their verses seemed excellent but the authors themselves had nothing to say about them Apology 22b. The opposition between wisdom and inspiration does not condemn poets.

They write by some nature phusei tini , as if inspiration were a normally occurring human instinct. But it is not for a lawmaker to make two statements about a single topic in a law.

When the god's power comes the poet's goes. Lawmakers work differently from that. And this contrast between inspiration and the origin of laws—occurring in a dialogue devoted to discovering the best laws for cities—hardly suggests an endorsement for inspiration. But it is also true that the passage puts the poet on a tripod, symbol of Apollo's priestesses.

Whatever brings a poet to write verse brings divine wisdom out of priestesses; and Plato regularly defers to the authority of oracles. Even supposing that talk of inspiration denies individual control and credit to the poet, the priestess shows that credit and control are not all that matters.

She is at her best when her mind intrudes least on what she is saying. Her pronouncements have the prestige they do, not despite her loss of control, but because of it. For more on this passage see Pappas Another passage in the Laws says as much when it attributes even reliable historical information to poets writing under the influence of the Muses and Graces a.

The Meno makes inspiration its defining example of ignorant truth-speaking. In the passages from the Apology, Laws, and Meno, which are his minor or tangential comments about inspiration, Plato seems to be affirming 1 that inspiration is really divine in origin, and 2 that this divine action that gives rise to poetry guarantees value in the result.

It may remain the case that the poet knows nothing. But something good must come of an inspiration shared by poets and priestesses, and often enough that good is truth.

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It does not address poetry alone. Gorgias c, Protagoras d. Nevertheless the Ion belongs in aesthetics by virtue of its focus on artistic inspiration, and the question it provokes of what inspiration implies about poetry's merits. As a rhapsode Ion travels among Greek cities reciting and explicating episodes from Homer.

Between the dramatic recitation and the interpretation, these performances offered much latitude for displays of talent, and Ion's talent has won him first prize at a contest in Epidaurus. His conversation with Socrates falls into three parts, covering idiosyncrasy a—c , inspiration c—d , and ignorance d—b.

Both the first and the third sections support the claims made in the second, which should be seen as the conclusion to the dialogue, supported in different ways by the discussions that come before and after it.

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The idiosyncrasy in Ion's attachment to Homer shows that Homer, and Ion because of him, function thanks to a divine visitation. But because Ion resists accepting a claim according to which he is deranged in his performances, Socrates presents a fall-back argument. Ion is unqualified to assess any of the factual claims that appear in Homer, about medicine, chariot racing, or anything else. When Socrates compels him to choose between divine inspiration and a very drab brand of knowing nothing, Ion agrees to be called inspired.

This is to say that although poets' and their readers' ignorance is indeed a fact for Plato, it is a fact in need of interpretation. Whether it means as in the Ion that gods inspire poetry, or as in Republic 10 that imitative poetry imitates appearance alone, ignorance matters less than the implications drawn from it.

Moreover, ignorance alone will not demonstrate that poets are possessed by the gods. The proof of Ion's ignorance supports inspiration but does not suffice to generate that doctrine. Even if Ion's ignorance takes up the last part of the dialogue, it is not Plato's last word about poetry.

The idiosyncrasy treated in this dialogue's opening section, by comparison, is for Plato irrational on its face. The word denotes both a paying occupation and the possession of expertise. In Ion's case Socrates specifies that the expertise for a rhapsode includes the ability to interpret poetry c. Ion rates himself superior at that task to all his competitors but concedes that he can only interpret Homer a.

Even though Homer and other poets sometimes address the same subjects, Ion has nothing to say about those other poets. He confesses this fact without shame or apology, as if his different responses reflected on the poets instead of on his talents.

Something in Homer makes him eloquent, and other poets lack that quality. Socrates argues that one who knows a field knows it whole e—a. This denial of the knowledge of particulars in their particularity also appears at Charmides e; Phaedo 97d; Republic a, d. It is not that what is known about an individual thing cannot transfer to other things of the same kind; rather that the act of treating an object as unique means attending to and knowing those qualities of it that do not transfer, knowing them as nontransferable qualities.

This attitude toward particulars qua particulars is an obstacle to every theoretical expertise. It may well be that what Ion understands about Homer happens to hold true of Hesiod. But if this is the case, Ion himself will not know it. Diotima's speech in the Symposium supplies a useful comparison.

Ion's investment in Homer, like the lover's lowest grade of attachment, reveals and also causes an unwillingness to move toward understanding. And so Ion presents Socrates with a conundrum. Although the man's love for Homer prohibits him from possessing expertise, Socrates recognizes how well Ion performs at his job. How to account for success minus skill? Socrates needs to diagnose Ion by means of some positive trait he possesses, not merely by the absence of knowledge.

Socrates therefore speaks of poets and those they move as entheous. He elaborates an analogy. Picture an iron ring hanging from a magnet, magnetized so that a second ring hangs from the first and a third from that second one. Magnets are Muses, the rings attached to them poets, the second rings the poets' interpreters, third the rhapsodes' audiences.

Plato's image captures the transferability of charisma. By being made of iron each ring has the capacity to take on the charge that holds it. But the magnetism resides in the magnet, not in the temporarily magnetized rings. No ring is itself the source of the next ring's attachment to it. Homer analogously draws poetic power from his Muse and attracts a rhapsode by means of borrowed power.

The analogy lets poets and rhapsodes appear charismatic without giving them credit for their appeal. Inspiration now additionally means that poets are irrational, as it never meant before Plato. This superadded irrationality explains why Ion rejects Socrates' proposal, in a passage that is frequently overlooked. He is not unhinged during his performances, Ion says; not katechomenos kai mainomenos, possessed and maddened d. Inspiration has come to imply madness and the madness in it is what Ion tries to reject.

What went wrong? The image of rings and magnets is slyer than it appeared. While the analogy rests transparently on one feature of magnetism, the transfer of attraction, it smuggles in a second feature. Socrates describes iron rings hanging in straight lines or branching: Although each ring may have more than a single ring dependent upon it, no ring is said to hang from more than one. But real rings hang in other ways, all the rings clumped against the magnet, or one ring clinging to two or three above it.

Why does Socrates keep the strings of rings so orderly? Here is one suggestion. Keeping Homer clung only to his Muse,and Ion clung only to Homer, preserves the idiosyncrasy that let Socrates deny expertise to Ion.

For otherwise a magnet and rings would show how genuine knowledge is transmitted. Suppose you say that a Muse leads the doctor Hippocrates to diagnostic insights that he tells his students and they tell theirs. That much divine help is all that the image of magnet and rings strictly implies, and it is no threat to a profession's understanding of itself. But no one would claim that a doctor can learn only from a single other doctor, or that a doctor treats a unique group of adulatory patients.

For a contrasting reading of this passage, however, see Chapter 3 of Capra Analogies always introduce new traits into the thing being described. That is in the nature of analogical thinking and no grounds for suspicion.

Plato's readers should become suspicious because the feature that slips into this figure, the orderly hanging of the rings, is neither called for by the way iron actually transmits magnetic force, nor neutral in effect.

Plain inspiration is analogized in the magnet's magnetism madness or possession by the straight lines of attraction. Plato has distorted magnetism to make it mean not inspiration simpliciter but something crazy. The combination of possession and madness in the Ion's version of inspiration makes it hard to decide whether the dialogue implies some approval for inspired poetry or condemns it altogether.

Readers have drawn opposite morals from this short work e.

Stern-Gillet As Socrates characterizes enthousiasmos, it denies Ion's professional credibility, not to mention his sanity. But there is religion to think of. If not traditionally pious, Plato is also not the irreverent type who would ascribe an action to divinities in order to mock it.

And consider the example of inspired verse mentioned here. Socrates cites Tynnichus, author of only one passable poem, which was a tribute to the Muses d.

It's as if the Muses wanted to display their power, Socrates says, by proving that their intervention could elicit a good poem even from an unskilled author. If this is Socrates' paradigm of inspired poetry, then whatever else inspiration also explains, it appears particularly well suited to producing praise of the gods.

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And praise of the gods is the lone poetic form that Plato respects and accepts Republic a. That already seems to justify inspiration. So what does the charge of madness mean? The word makes Ion recoil—but what does he know about higher states of understanding? Maybe madness itself needs to be reconceived. The Ion says far from enough to settle the question.

But Plato's other sustained discussion of inspiration returns to the language of madness and finds some forms of it permissible, even philosophical. Although other sections of the Phaedrus are relevant to Platonic aesthetics, this is the only part directly about inspiration. Socrates' speech begins by sorting out mania.

Madness comes in two general forms: the diseased state of mental dysfunction, and a divergence from ordinary rationality that a god sometimes brings see a—b. Divine madness subdivides into love, Dionysian frenzy, oracular prophecy, and poetic composition b—a. All four cases are associated with particular deities and traditionally honored. On reconciling the possession described in the Ion with that in the Phaedrus, see Gonzalez for extended discussion.

In abbreviated terms we can say that the madness of the Phaedrus is separated from ordinary madness as the Ion's version is not, and is classified pointedly as a good derangement. Being a god, Eros can't do anything bad d—e. The Ion contains no theological pieties comparable to this claim or to similar statements in Laws, Republic, elsewhere. The greatest blessings flow from divine mania a. Nor is this possessed condition associated with idiosyncrasy in the Phaedrus.

On the contrary. To account for the madness of love Socrates describes an otherworldly existence in which souls ride across the top of heaven enjoying direct visions of the Forms c—d. After falling into bodily existence a soul responds to beauty more avidly than it does to any other qualities for which there are Forms. Accordingly it happens that a beautiful sight, like that of a lovely human form, inspires the turn toward philosophizing as a just law or a self-controlled action do not.

Associating beauty with inspiration suggests that poetry born of another kind of inspiration might also have philosophical worth. But before welcoming the lost sheep Plato back to the poetry-loving fold, recognize the Phaedrus's qualifying remarks about which poetry one may now prize.

It cannot be imitative. But Plato exempts hymns to gods and encomia of heroes even from his harshest condemnation of poetry Republic a. Quite compatibly with the Republic's exemption the Ion specifies a hymn to the Muses as its example of inspiration and the Phaedrus describes the praise of heroes.

Whenever possible Plato reserves the benefits of inspiration for the poems he does not have reason to condemn. And this restriction on which poems derive a true merit from being inspired leaves inspiration a long way from guaranteeing poetry's value. A mirror reflection might prompt you to turn around and look at the thing being reflected; an imitation keeps your eyes on the copy alone.

Imitation has a base cause and baser effects. Recall that while Plato's critique depends on both these claims, he really only substantiates the first one. Beauty by comparison begins in the domain of intelligible objects, since there is a Form of beauty.

And more than any other property for which a Form exists, beauty engages the soul and draws it toward philosophical deliberation, toward thoughts of absolute beauty and subsequently as we imagine toward thoughts of other concepts. Plato therefore hates to acknowledge that poems contain any beauty. He hardly could. It is bad enough for his view that he does not account for an imitative poem's appeal; to deny the appeal would rob his account of all plausibility.

Nor can a good philosophical version of imitation work as opposite to the poetic kind. Plato recognizes a salutary function that imitations sometimes have, even the function of drawing the mind toward knowledge. There is no account of sound imitation that would counterweigh the attacks in the Republic. In any case this is a constructive turn that never seems to be made available to poems or paintings.

If good imitation does exist, its home is not among the arts. Still the idea invites a worthwhile question: Is there anything human beings can produce that would function oppositely to mimetic poetry? Inspiration is the most promising possibility.

The cause behind inspiration is unimpeachable, for it begins in the divine realm. Is that a realm of Forms? The Phaedrus comes closest to saying so, both by associating the gods with Forms c—e , and by rooting inspired love in recollection a.

But this falls short of showing that the poets' divine madness likewise originates among objects of greater reality. It might, but does not have to. The Ion says less about poetry's divine origins than the Phaedrus, certainly nothing that requires an interpreter to discover Forms within the Muse's magnetism. Laws a and Meno 99c—d credit the inspired condition with the production of truths, even in poetry.

Neither passage describes the truths about Forms that philosophical dialectic would lead to, but that might be asking too much.