It is often assumed that the concept of 'alētheia', or ‘truth’, in Gorgias of Leontini belongs to the art of rhetoric. Along these lines, it is usually understood as an aesthetic concept or even a mere ‘adornment’ of speech. In this paper, it is argued, by contrast, that Gorgianic alētheia is a definable criterion of speech figuring in the practice of moral education. While the ‘truth’ of a logos indeed has to be assessed on aesthetic grounds, the underlying concept of (...) alētheia is predominantly ethical. For Gorgias, speech is ‘true’ when it promotes virtue (aretē) by being expressive of virtue. The principle stated in the opening passage of the Encomium of Helen, that a speaker has ‘to praise what is praiseworthy and to blame what is blameworthy’, explains precisely this understanding of alētheia. (shrink)
The paper discusses the debate on the human nature in the sophistic thought. Focusing on the "nature-culture" controversy it presents the evolution of the views of the sophists: from Protagoras' optimistic contention of the progress of mankind and his appraisal of culture to its criticism and the radical turn to nature in Antiphon, Hippias, Trasymachos, and Callicles. The paper aims at presenting the analysis of the ongoing discussion, with the stress laid on reconstruction of the arguments and concepts as well (...) as the attitudes that are associated with various positions of this debate. -/- . (shrink)
Gorgias’ On Not-Being survives only in two divergent summaries. Diels–Kranz's classic edition prints the better-preserved version that appears in Sextus’ Aduersus Mathematicos. Yet, in recent years there has been rising interest in a second summary that survives as part of the anonymous De Melisso, Xenophane, Gorgia. The text of MXG is more difficult; it contains substantial lacunae that often make it much harder to make grammatical let alone philosophical sense of. As Alexander Mourelatos reports, one manuscript has a scribal note (...) that reads: ‘The original contains many errors; no one should blame me; I just copy what I see.’2 The treatise's state of preservation has aptly prompted Michael Gagarin to liken it to a black hole: ‘something we cannot see directly but know must exist because of certain effects it has on other objects.’3. (shrink)
Sophists and rhetoricians like Gorgias are often accused of disregarding truth and rationality: their speeches seem to aim only at effective persuasion, and be constrained by nothing but persuasiveness itself. In his extant texts Gorgias claims that language does not represent external objects or communicate internal states, but merely generates behavioural responses in people. It has been argued that this perspective erodes the possibility of rationally assessing speeches by making persuasiveness the only norm, and persuasive power the only virtue, of (...) speech. Against this view, I show how Gorgias’ texts support a robust normativity of language that goes well beyond persuasion while remaining non-representational. Gorgias’ claims that a speech can be persuasive and false, or true and unpersuasive, reveal pragmatic, epistemic, and agonistic constraints on the validity of speech that are neither representational nor reducible to sheer persuasiveness. (shrink)
The proof of first thesis of Gorgias is an indirect deductive argument constructed by the multiple use of the _modus tollens_ pattern. Those of its premises which are assumed without proofs are misleadingly similar to some logical or analytical truths. If they actually were such truths, some contradictions would have to appear in the proof. In the times of Gorgias the proof could be regarded as correct; the possibility of showing and clearly describing its defects emerged only after formal logic (...) had been invented. Gorgias could announce his thesis seriously – as a thesis of extreme metaphysical nihilism – without being embarrassed. If the proof is a sophistry, then it is a masterpiece among sophistries, the most outstanding achievement of the sophists in this domain. (shrink)
This paper aims to explore the variety of sophistic argumentations that the Paduan philosopher and writer Sperone Speroni (1500-1588) applies in the so-called paradoxical work Dialogo della Discordia (1542), in which style as well as content factor into the author’s interest in ancient sophistic rhetoric. In analyzing the subject, the paper focuses on the influence of Erasmus’ Praise of Folly (1511) in Speroni’s dialogue. In so doing, the paper also intends to contribute to a deeper understanding of the impact of (...) Erasmus’ work in the Venetian area - in particular, the rebirth of ancient sophistic literature in the Italian Renaissance. (shrink)
The article argues that the doctrine of Gorgias of Leontinoi, as expressed in his ›Encomion of Helen‹, is not a rhetorical technique but a practice of moral education. The medium of this »ethical speech practice« is perceptual forms, its basic mode being the practice of showing or epideictic speech. The crucial standard of this practice is »epideictic rightness«, which is identical to Gorgias’ conception of »truth«. According to this conception, speech is true if it exemplifies morally right conduct and moral (...) beauty. True speech in this sense must also be effective speech, since it will promote right behaviour in the future. (shrink)
This is the translation and interpretation of the Gorgias' speech from Plato's dialogue Gorgias (456A1-457C3). In the commentary it is argued that the Gorgias' speech in the dialogue is based on the philosophical and rhetorical motives which can be found both in Gorgias' epideictic speeches ("Helen" and "Palamedes") and doxographical accounts.
The aim of the present paper is to investigate the connection between ancient medicine and sophistry at the end of 5th century B.C. Beginning with analyses of some passages from the De vetere medicina, De natura hominis and De arte, the article identifies many similarities between these treatises, on the one hand, and the sophistic doctrines, on the other: these concern primarily perceptual/intellectual knowledge and the interaction between reality, knowledge and language. Among the Sophists, Gorgias was particularly followed and imitated, (...) as he was admired not only for his tremendous rhetorical skills, but also for his philosophically significant work On not being, which probably influenced various discussions in the Hippocratic treatises. However, if Gorgias argues in favor of language as dynastēs megas, the authors of VM, NH and De arte consider knowledge to be far more relevant and reliable than logos. These Hippocratic treatises criticize the philosophical thesis and the resulting kind of reductionism. Above all they defend the supremacy of medicine over any other art. By using the same argumentative and rhetorical strategies that were employed by Gorgias, these treatises reverse the thought of those Sophists who exalted only the technē tōn logōn. (shrink)
In this paper I offer a reconstruction of the account of meaning and language the Cyrenaics appear to have defended on the basis of a famous passage of Sextus, as well as showing the philosophical parentage of that account.
This is the introduction and the translation of Gorgias' "Helen". The speech is considered to be one of the most interesting pieces of early Greek rhetoric not only because of its rhetorical, but also because of its philosophical value. There is no doubt that it sets out the outlines of the sophistic conception of logos and (along with another Gorgias' speech Palamedes) represents the starting point for the Plato's critique of Gorgias' rhetoric in the dialogue "Gorgias'.
Rhetorik der Platonischen Verteidigung des Sokrates Die Platonische Verteidigung des Sokrates nimmt einen besonderen Platz im Werk Platons ein. Zweifellos schafft sie viele Fragen, das Datum und Umstände ihrer Entste- hung betreffend, oder hinsichtlich der darin enthaltenen originellen ldeen und ihrer Treue gegenüber der Verteidigungsrede von Sokrates selbst. Die Verteidigungsrede (eigentlich sind es drei Verteidigungsreden) ist jedoch auch aus dem Grund sehr interessant, daß sie (als Verteidigungsrede) zu einer gewissen Tradition gehört, die für immer mit der Sophi- stik verbunden ist. (...) Diese Tatsache erlangt besonders deswegen große Bedeutung, weil Platon mit diesen Reden ein Gebiet betritt, das eine Domäne der philosophischen Haupt- feinde sowohl von Sokrates als auch von Platon selbst ist. Aus der Perspektive der späte- ren Texte Platons und der darin geäußerten Ablehnung gegenüber Anwendung der Rhe- torik ist es interessant, die Apologie des Sokrates in ihrem Aufbau zu analysieren. Die Be- stimmung des intertextuellen Hintergrunds der Platonischen Verteidigung des Sokrates, ihr Bezug auf rhetorische Traditionen jener Zeit und der Hinweis auf strukturelle, inhal- tliche und philosophische Anknüpfungen können bei der Rekonstruktion der Platonischen Auffassung von Rhetorik und des Verhältnisses Platons zu der Sophistik hilfreich sein. (shrink)