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Socrates A Good Statesman Analysis

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In Plato's Gorgias, it is apparent that Socrates has no desire to be a good statesman as it is defined in the eyes of the Athenians. His calculation is that Athenian rhetoricians place no reliance on facts or truth, nor are these their aim. Instead, they rely on the illusion of knowledge, and this morally weakens both themselves and their audiences. It is clear however, that if he wishes, Socrates is able to match most or all of the other statesmen in Athens, as is clearly indicated by his very eloquent speech which ends the dialogue. Additionally, under his own definition of a good statesman, it is evident that Socrates is more than qualified. Through discussion, he is able to conclude that a statesman should be concerned solely with truth…show more content…
The following statement by Gorgias, for instance, is maintained throughout the dialogue: "The rhetorician is capable of speaking against everyone else and on any subject you please in such a way that he can win over vast multitudes to anything, in a word, that he may desire." Plato, p. 16 Socrates addresses this in the discussion with Polus about happiness and proves again the injustice of rhetoricians. The men conclude together that the happiest man is without vice, "the greatest of evils," Plato p. 45, and the "…second happiest… is he who gets rid of it… And he… is the man who is rebuked and admonished and brought to justice." Plato, p. 46 The argument then leads to the understanding that men with vice realize this painful aspect of justice and are blind to its good impact on the soul. They cannot therefore, be happy. In fact, states Socrates: "…a man who is not brought to justice is more wretched than one who is." Plato, p. 47 Therefore, rhetoricians use persuasive speaking to avoid being brought to justice for their vices. Their "power" then, really lies in their ability to dodge pain with flashy persuasions which mask their vices. Since power is later defined as "…something good to the man who yields it," Plato, p. 27 it follows that rhetoricians cannot be truly powerful because they hide from justice and use falsehoods to do
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