On Talkativeness

Lieve Van Hoof

in Plutarch's Practical Ethics

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199583263
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723131 | DOI:
On Talkativeness

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This chapter is concerned with On Talkativeness, a ‘psychotherapeutic’ work discussing speech, a central issue in elite culture in Plutarch's days. As opposed to earlier authors such as Theophrastus, Plutarch is not merely concerned with too much talking, but also with the inappropriate or untimely use of speech. By thus extending the subject matter, Plutarch explores the borders between ethics and etiquette. He also deploys a wide range of rhetorical strategies in order to discourage the reader from using speech straightforwardly as an instrument for acquiring honour: philosophy, which replaces self-love with self-knowledge and concern for others, is needed in order to manipulate one's cultural capital successfully in ever changing social circumstances. If his text thus offers practical help in the Bourdieuvian sense of the word, Plutarch also seizes the opportunity to defend his own practice as a prolific writer.

Keywords: de garrulitate; On Talkativeness; psychotherapy; speech; Theophrastus; ethics; etiquette; honour; cultural capital; Bourdieu; self-defence

Chapter.  10218 words. 

Subjects: Classical Philosophy

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