GORGIAS SPARKNOTES PDF

In a debate with Gorgias a famous rhetorician, who teaches his students how to speak well , his student Polus , and the rhetorician Callicles , Socrates attempts to establish what he believes is the right way to live, and to establish philosophy as a knowledge that heals the soul, rather than rhetoric, which merely flatters it. Gorgias begins with Socrates and Chairephon arriving late to a speech given by Gorgias. Gorgias brags that he can make anyone into a rhetorician. In dialogue with Gorgias, Socrates attacks rhetoric, saying it is not a legitimate branch of knowledge—all professions use speech, so what specific skill does rhetoric have? They finally arrive at the conclusion that rhetoric is the art of establishing conviction in its listeners, especially in courtrooms and public assemblies. Therefore, rhetoricians deal with what is just and unjust, but it is possible for them to abuse their power—for example, by convincing a jury to let a guilty man go free.

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In a debate with Gorgias a famous rhetorician, who teaches his students how to speak well , his student Polus , and the rhetorician Callicles , Socrates attempts to establish what he believes is the right way to live, and to establish philosophy as a knowledge that heals the soul, rather than rhetoric, which merely flatters it.

Gorgias begins with Socrates and Chairephon arriving late to a speech given by Gorgias. Gorgias brags that he can make anyone into a rhetorician.

In dialogue with Gorgias, Socrates attacks rhetoric, saying it is not a legitimate branch of knowledge—all professions use speech, so what specific skill does rhetoric have?

They finally arrive at the conclusion that rhetoric is the art of establishing conviction in its listeners, especially in courtrooms and public assemblies. Therefore, rhetoricians deal with what is just and unjust, but it is possible for them to abuse their power—for example, by convincing a jury to let a guilty man go free.

Socrates says that rhetoric is a form of flattery: it is the equivalent of cooking pastries, which feel nice to eat, but are bad for you. Socrates argues that tyrants and rhetoricians are in fact the unhappiest and least powerful people in the city. Tyrants think they are acting in their best interest by confiscating the property of others, when in fact they are acting against their own interests, because evil is harmful to their soul.

It follows that it is worse to do evil than to have evil done to you. Finally, Socrates argues, it follows that, to be happy, rhetoricians should accuse themselves and their families before the courts. At this point, Callicles jumps in. He accuses Socrates of having turned the world upside down—people should forgive their enemies and accuse themselves in court. Socrates argues that while rhetoricians always change their opinions depending on the views of others, philosophy remains the same.

Callicles ignores this, and argues that there is nothing good about suffering evil. In nature, there is only strength and weakness. Nature rewards the strong, and punishes the weak, and that is as it should be.

Goodness is when the strong are rewarded for their strength. Socrates points out that, by this logic, a mass of people would be "better" than an individual, since it is stronger.

But this mass of individuals often passes laws that Callicles considers "weak"—for example, laws that demand that property be distributed equally. Having reached a stalemate with Callicles, Socrates argues with himself.

The purpose of philosophy is to tell us what is true and good, not what is pleasant. He reflects on the myth that, in the afterlife, all souls are judged naked. He believes that, if one is just and virtuous, one will be able to stand up with pride to that judgment.

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GORGIAS SPARKNOTES PDF

Page 1 Page 2 Note: Plato did not divide Gorgias into sections. Instead, the text exists as a continuous dialogue which breaks only at its end. For the purposes of this study guide, therefore, artificial divisions have been made that correspond to each discussion of a different topic. Thus, a section concludes when the subject in focus shifts. As this is the standard system by which to cite Plato, most editions include such notation in their margins. Socrates wishes to test this claim somewhat, and seeks the famous Sophist in order "to learn from him what is the scope of his art and just what he professes and teaches. Gorgias does not provide a response that satisfies Socrates.

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View the Lesson Plans. Read more from the Study Guide. This study guide contains the following sections: In the debate various moral, philosophical, and spiritual issues are raised. View the Study Pack. Those who are strong should govern those who are weak, and the law is part of conventions designed by the weak to defend the weak. Browse all BookRags Study Guides. As the final judgment exonerate no flattering appearance or pretense, only bare truth matters.

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Gorgias Summary

General Summary Summary General Summary Gorgias is a detailed study of virtue founded upon an inquiry into the nature of rhetoric, art, power, temperance, justice, and good versus evil. It exists in the form of a mostly friendly though at times scathing conversation between Socrates and four fellow citizens. Gorgias is the famous orator for whom this text was named , the questioning of whom serves as catalyst for the debates around which Gorgias centers. Though Plato himself did not split his writing into sections, the text nonetheless divides quite smoothly into general topics. Socrates desires to question Gorgias about the scope and nature of rhetoric, so the two head towards the home of Callicles where the great Sophist can be found. Though this is the first hint at the dissimilarity between the two notions, the point is not further developed until much later in the dialogue.

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