Gorgias In Socrates's Rhetoric: Finding The Truth

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In Gorgias, Socrates argues that philosophy is about finding the truth, whereas rhetoric is merely flattery. “Rhetoric is the art of persuasive speaking or writing” (Oxford American Dictionary). Socrates was born near the end of the fourth century B.C. During Socrates's time in the fourth century, rhetoric was a highly regarded art. Plato, a student of Socrates, wrote Gorgias in 380 B.C. In this dialogue, Socrates seeks the true definition of rhetoric and attempts to discover the nature of this art. He questions Gorgias, Polus, and Callicles on its meaning, as well as its use. In the following paragraphs, it will be shown why Socrates holds to the opinion that rhetoric is a useless form of flattery. The dialogue opens with Socrates arriving at the house of Callicles. Through the constant questioning of Gorgias, Polus, and Callicles, Socrates means to find the nature of Gorgias's art, the art of rhetoric. During the dialogue, there are a few instances where Gorgias contradicts himself in answering the question, What is rhetoric? When Socrates says that the nature of rhetoric was a marvel of greatness, Gorgias starts a lengthy…show more content…
Rhetoric can degenerate from “the question at issue” to “abusing one another.” One rhetorician becomes angry that his remark is criticized and is more concerned about winning the debate than having an investigation of truth. Rhetoric is, as Socrates calls it, a form of flattery. Socrates says to Gorgias that “the whole of which rhetoric is a part is not an art at all, but the habit of a bold and ready wit...this habit I sum under the word 'flattery'.” Throughout the entire dialogue, Socrates argues with Gorgias, Polus, and Callicles to figure out the meaning and nature of rhetoric. After much discussion and questioning, Socrates finally comes to the conclusion that rhetoric is useless unless used to accuse yourself of
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