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Who is afraid of the rhētōr?


An analysis and exegesis of Socrates and Gorgias' conversation in Plato's Gorgias


This book concentrates on the conversation between Socrates and Gorgias which takes place in the first part of Plato's Gorgias. Scholars have tended to concentrate on the following two conversations held by Socrates with Polus and, especially, with Callicles. This first, relatively short, conversation is usually taken to be a kind of preface coming before Plato's 'real' philosophy. The present study challenges this assumption, arguing that the conversation between Socrates and Gorgias actually anticipates the message of the whole dialogue, which concerns the essence of rhetoric and its implications.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-0258-3
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Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Aug 5,2014
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 179
Languages: Greek, English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-0258-3
$169.00
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This book concentrates on the conversation between Socrates and Gorgias which takes place in the first part of Plato's Gorgias. Scholars writing on the Gorgias have tended to concentrate on the following two conversations held by Socrates with Polus and, especially, with Callicles. This first, relatively short, conversation is usually taken to be a kind of preface coming before Plato's 'real' philosophy. The present study challenges this assumption, arguing that the conversation between Socrates and Gorgias actually anticipates the message of the whole dialogue, which concerns the essence of rhetoric and its implications.

The book moves along two parallel lines. One is philological, presenting a painstaking analysis of the conversation between Socrates and Gorgias, and revealing a Socratic technique so far undetected - 'the associative-terminological method' - by which Socrates tries to teach Gorgias. The second line arising from the analysis pertains to rhetoric itself, which is found to be the first formal, and consequently neutral art. That is to say that rhetoric, in its role as a new art, effectively modifies the very notion of 'art'. One of its main consequences is a new answer to the question 'who is to blame for misusing art?' Until this dialogue there had been only two possible answers - the teacher or the student. Now with the entrance of rhetoric into the family of arts, as a formal and neutral art, rhetoric itself becomes a legitimate candidate.

Yosef Z. Liebersohn, Senior Lecturer in Ancient History and Philosophy at Bar-Ilan University, is the author of The Dispute concerning Rhetoric in Hellenistic Thought (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2010), and has published articles on Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics and Epicurus.

Cover: Socrates and Plato in a medieval picture.

This book concentrates on the conversation between Socrates and Gorgias which takes place in the first part of Plato's Gorgias. Scholars writing on the Gorgias have tended to concentrate on the following two conversations held by Socrates with Polus and, especially, with Callicles. This first, relatively short, conversation is usually taken to be a kind of preface coming before Plato's 'real' philosophy. The present study challenges this assumption, arguing that the conversation between Socrates and Gorgias actually anticipates the message of the whole dialogue, which concerns the essence of rhetoric and its implications.

The book moves along two parallel lines. One is philological, presenting a painstaking analysis of the conversation between Socrates and Gorgias, and revealing a Socratic technique so far undetected - 'the associative-terminological method' - by which Socrates tries to teach Gorgias. The second line arising from the analysis pertains to rhetoric itself, which is found to be the first formal, and consequently neutral art. That is to say that rhetoric, in its role as a new art, effectively modifies the very notion of 'art'. One of its main consequences is a new answer to the question 'who is to blame for misusing art?' Until this dialogue there had been only two possible answers - the teacher or the student. Now with the entrance of rhetoric into the family of arts, as a formal and neutral art, rhetoric itself becomes a legitimate candidate.

Yosef Z. Liebersohn, Senior Lecturer in Ancient History and Philosophy at Bar-Ilan University, is the author of The Dispute concerning Rhetoric in Hellenistic Thought (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2010), and has published articles on Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics and Epicurus.

Cover: Socrates and Plato in a medieval picture.

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Yosef Liebersohn

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • Acknowledgments (page 7)
  • Preface (page 9)
  • 1. Introduction (page 11)
    • A. The Associative-Terminological Method (page 11)
    • B. The Platonic Dialogue and the Dramatic Approach (page 15)
  • 2. Socrates' First Move (447A1-449B3): Analysis (page 23)
    • Introduction (page 23)
    • A. Socrates' First Stage 447B9-448C9 (page 25)
    • B. Socrates' Second Stage 448D1-449A5 (page 31)
    • C. Socrates' Third Stage 449A6-10 (page 37)
    • D. Socrates' Fourth Stage 449B1-3 (page 39)
  • 3. Socrates' First Move: Interpretation (page 43)
    • Introduction (page 43)
    • A. Polus and Rhetor-Rhetorike (page 45)
    • B. Gorgias and and Rhetor-Rhetorike (page 47)
    • C. Rhetorike, Place and Meaning (page 49)
    • D. The Status of Rhetorike (page 53)
  • 4. Rhetor and Derivatives: Meanings and Usages (page 59)
  • 5. The Rhetores in Gorgias' World-view (page 67)
  • 6. The Rhetor in Gorgias' World-view (page 77)
  • 7. Gorgias' Philosophical Problem: The Vacillation of the Artist (page 81)
    • Introduction (page 81)
    • A. Gorgias' Rhetores: Meaning (page 84)
    • B. Gorgias' Rhetor: Meaning (page 88)
  • 8. Socrates' Second Move 449B4-461B2: Analysis (page 93)
    • Introduction (page 93)
    • A. Socrates' First Stage: 449C9-455A7 (page 97)
    • B. Socrates' Second Stage: 455A8-457C3 (page 99)
    • C. Socrates' Third Stage 458E3-459C2 (page 105)
    • D. Socrates' Fourth Stage 459C6-460C6 (page 114)
    • E. The Refutation 460C7-461B2 (page 118)
  • 9. Socrates' Second Move: Interpretation (page 121)
  • 10. Socrates' Philosophical Criticism: The Vacillation of the Art (page 137)
  • 11. Possible Objections (page 149)
    • A. Rhetorikos (page 149)
    • B. Rhetor (page 159)
  • 12. With a View to the Rest of the Gorgias (page 161)
  • 13. Summary (page 165)
  • 14. Appendices (page 169)
  • Appendix A (page 169)
    • First Stage (page 169)
    • Second Stage (page 170)
    • Third Stage (page 170)
    • Conclusion (page 171)
  • Appendix B (page 173)
    • First Stage (page 173)
    • Second Stage (page 173)
    • Thrid Stage (page 173)
    • Conclusion (page 173)
  • Appendix C (page 175)
  • Bibliography (page 177)
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