This essay argues that the difference between philosophy and sophistical rhetoric that Plato presents in the Gorgias turns most fundamentally on different conceptions of the nature of language. After presenting some of the decisive moments in the debate between Socrates and Polus, Gorgias, and Callicles, this essay draws on the discussion of technē in Republic I to elucidate the “precise” sense of technē: namely, technē is ordered to the benefit of that over which it is set. The essay also draws on the discussion of names in the Cratylus to show that the technē that is language, considered most precisely, is ordered to the manifestation of the truth of being more basically than to communication. Sophistry, by contrast, presumes what the essay calls a “technological” interpretation of language, which is essentially indifferent to being, and is ordered instead simply to communication, now understood principally in the mode of manipulative persuasion.
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DOI 10.1163/22134417-00341p08
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