Law Quadrangle (formerly Law Quad Notes)


This is a highly abridged version of the title essay of Professor White's recent book, Heracles' Bow: Essays on the Rhetoric and Poetics of the Law.© 1985, The University of Wisconsin Press; reprinted by permission.

Here he presents a reading of Sophocles' play Philoctetes, which is about the ethical significance of different forms of persuasion, a matter of some significance for lawyers. The play in fact establishes with great clarity a contrast that has been fundamental in Western ethical thought ever since, between treating another person as an object of manipulation - as a "means" to an end - and treating (him or her) a one who has claims to autonomy and respect equal to one's own, that is, as an "end" in himself. This contrast has a special and disturbing significance for someone who, like the lawyer, makes an art of persuading others.