When Socrates endeavors to question Gorgias about rhetoric, their discussion turns into an exposition of arguments between Socrates, Gorgias, and Polus. While defining rhetoric, Socrates provokes discussion as to the nature, influence, and practice of rhetoric. In the debate various moral, philosophical, and spiritual issues are raised.
When Gorgias is unable to define rhetoric and contradicts himself, his disciple Polus defends him. Socrates delves into the difference between the concept and form that for him is more flattery and sham. Just as cookery elicits pleasure, rhetoric evokes gratification. Both involve skill rather than art.
The argument advances as Gorgias and Polus find rhetoric to be a powerful tool that Socrates ridicules due to their inability to show why rhetoric teaches everything although knows nothing. Through a series of paradoxes, Socrates proves that rhetoric has no power at all, while raising issues of justice, morality, and philosophy.
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