Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics


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Plato on Rhetoric and Poetry

Applied ethics. History of Western Philosophy. Normative ethics. And from our later investigation you too see now for yourself that once again it is agreed that the rhetorician is powerless to use rhetoric unjustly and to want to do injustice. So then, what in the world is the case with these things, by the dog,35 Gorgias, is a matter for no little conversation, so as to examine it adequately. Do you too actually hold such an opinion. When he uses this unusual oath again at b, Socrates indicates that "the dog" was an Egyptian god the dog-headed god Anubis.

But it is much rudeness to lead arguments into such things. And so now if Gorgias and I are being tripped up in the speeches on some point, you who are present set us upright-and so you are just-and if something of what has been agreed on seems to you not to have been agreed on finely, I am willing for you to take back whatever you wish,36 if you guard against only one thing for me.

Edited by Michael J. MacDonald

Will it not be allowed me to say as much as I wish? But then set against it this: if you are speaking at length and are unwilling to answer what is asked, would I on the other hand not suffer terrible things, if it will not be allowed me to go away and not to listen to you? But if something in the argument that has been stated bothers you and you wish to set it upright, as I was just now saying, take back what seems good to you, and, in your turn asking and being asked, just as Gorgias and I, refute and be refuted. For you assert, I suppose, that you too know the things that Gorgias knows, don't you?

And answer me, Socrates: since Gorgias in your opinion is at a loss concerning rhetoric, what do you say it is? Have you already learned from me what I say it is, so that you are asking what comes after this, if it isn't fine in my opinion? Well, say, "But what is it?

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Say, "Of what? But whether the rhetoric that Gorgias pursues is this, I. Dodds argues for an alternative meaning: a business "of which you claim to have made an art in your treatise. The Greek word diakOmodein contains the word for "comedy. Of this pursuit there are, in my opinion, many various parts, and one of them is cookery; it seems to be an art, but-as my argument goes-is not an art but experience and routine.

So then if Polus wishes to learn, let him learn; for he has not yet learned what sort of part of flattery I say rhetoric is, but my not yet answering has escaped his notice, and he is asking further whether I do not consider it to be a fine thing. But I shall not answer him whether I consider rhetoric to be a fine or a shameful thing before I first answer what it is.

Introduction to Plato's Gorgias

For it's not just, Polus; but if you wish to learn, ask what sort of part of flattery I say rhetoric is. Do you say it is a fine or a shameful thing?


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Andreios, "courageous," comes from aner, an emphatically male man, and might well be translated "manly. Socrates' reference to youth and swiftness may evoke a pun on Polus's name, which means "colt. Well, leave him be, and tell me what you mean in saying that rhetoric is a phantom of a part of politics. You call something body, I suppose, and soul? Do you think there is a good condition that seems to be, but is not? Since there are two kinds of business, I say there are two arts.

The one directed to the soul I call politics; the one directed to the body I am unable to name for you in this way, but I say that, while the care of the body is one, it has two parts, gymnastic and medicine; and that of politics, the legislative art is comparable to gymnastic, and justice42 is the counterpart to medicine. On the one hand, each of these two share something in common with each other, seeing that they are about the same thing, medicine with gymnastic and justice with the legislative art; on the other hand, they nevertheless differ somewhat from each other. Now these are four, and always take care-some of the body, the others of the soul-in accord with what is best.

But flattery43 perceived this I do not mean by knowing but by guessing , divided itself into four, and slipped in under each of the parts; it pretends to be this that it has slipped in under, and gives no heed to the best but hunts after folly with what is ever most pleasant, GOR. Reading dikaiosuni! Socrates uses feminine singular kolakeutiki!

So cookery has slipped in under medicine and pretends to know the best foods for the body, so that, if the cook and the doctor had to contest among children or among men as thoughtless as children which of the two, the doctor or the cook, has understanding about useful and bad foods, the doctor would die of hunger. This, therefore, I call flattery, and I assert that such a thing is shameful, Polus-for I am saying this to you-because it guesses at the pleasant without the best.

What is good rhetoric?

But if you disagree about these things, I am willing to provide a reasoned account. So in order not. For indeed if the soul were not set over the body, but the body were set over itself, and if cookery and medicine were not contemplated and distinguished by the soul, but the body itself decided, measuring by the gratifications for itself, the saying of Anaxagoras44 would be much to the point, Polus my friend-for you are experienced in these. The pre-Socratic philosopher Anaxagoras appears to have taught that some amount of each material is present in every thing.

Political Theory between Philosophy and Rhetoric | SpringerLink

When Meletus says that Socrates teaches that the sun is a stone and the moon earth, Socrates belittles the accusation by asking Meletus whether he thinks he is accusing Anaxagoras Apology 26d. In his brief. So then, you have heard what I say rhetoric is: the counterpart of cookery in the soul, as that [is the counterpart of rhetoric] in the body.

Perhaps, then, I have done a strange thing in that, not permitting you to make lengthy speeches, I have myself extended a long speech. It is then appropriate to pardon me; for when I spoke briefly, you did not understand, and you were able to make no use of the answer that I gave you, but needed a full description. So then, when you are answering, if I too do not know what use to make of it, you too extend your speech; but if I do, let me make use of it; for that is just.

And now, if you can make some use of this answer, do so. But do you not remember at your age, Polus? What will you do later? Well, I am asking you. In that case are you asking me two things at once? But I do indeed say so! You do not, since you say that having great power is good for the one who has it. And do you call this having great power? If you leave me unrefuted, rhetors who do what seems good to them in the cities and tyrants will have acquired nothing good by this. And power is, as you say, a good thing, but you too agree that doing what seems good without intelligence is a bad thing; don't you?

Well, refute me! Doing what seems good to them? For example, do those who drink a drug from the doctors seem to you to wish this thing that they are doing, drinking the drug and suffering pain, or that thing, being healthy, for the sake of which they drink? Many editors prefer the correction "Don't speak evil.

Lamb's "peerless Polus" hits the mark 0N. Don't you say these things? Or do you call some other things neither good nor bad? For we wish the good things, as you say, but we do not wish the things that are neither good nor bad, nor the bad things. Does what I'm saying seem true to you Polus, or not? Why do you not answer?

Do the human beings that I am speaking about seem to you to be in such a condition? I for one would wish neither; but if it were necessary to do or to suffer injustice, I would choose rather to suffer than to do injustice. If in the crowded marketplace I took a dagger from under my arm and said to you, "Polus, a certain power and an amazing tyranny have just now accrued to me. For if indeed it seems good to me that someone of these human beings that you see must straightaway die, this one shall die, as seems good to me.

And if it seems good to me that one of them must have his head smashed, it shall straightaway be smashed; and if his cloak must be torn, it shall be torn. Such great power do I have in this city.

Aeon for Friends

Say what boundary you define. But would not even a child refute you, and show that what you're saying isn't true? So don't tire of doing good to a man who's a friend, but refute. You would know if you were with him, but otherwise, on the spot, you do not know that he is happy? Archelaus ruled Macedonia from to 3 99, dying the same year as Socrates.


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Dodds notes: "Leading poets like Euripides [and] Agathon. Frogs Thucydides 2. Gorgias soc. Is the whole of happiness in this? For I assert that the noble and good50 man and woman are happy; the unjust and base, wretched. But now, how amazingly wretched he has become, since he has done the greatest unjust deeds! First, he sent for this man, his very master and uncle, as if he was going to give back the rule that Perdiccas had taken away from him; having entertained him and his son Alexander his own first cousin, of about the same age as guests and got them drunk, he threw them into a wagon and, dragging them away by night, cut their throats and did away with them both.

And now is this the speech by which even a child would refute me? And have I now, as. Kalas kagathos is a standard formula for something like "the complete gentleman"; the term was also used by the aristocratic party to distinguish themselves from common folk. Dodds notes that he has nowhere else found the phrase applied to women. How can it possibly be, good fellow? On the contrary, I certainly do not agree with you on any one of these things that you are asserting.

Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics
Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics
Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics
Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics
Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics
Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics
Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics
Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics
Gorgias and Phaedrus: Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics

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