Gorgias Themes

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Rhetoric is the main theme in Gorgias, where the entire discourse is initiated by Socrates to examine its nature, practice, and effects. Socrates is interested in rhetoric as a powerful tool that Gorgias claims to have mastered. He is critical of the way Gorgias practices rhetoric, respecting his abilities but contesting his insight into rhetoric. The very definition of rhetoric as a profession that deals with words and persuasion provokes Socrates to inquire about its effects. If defined as power, it needs to be used with caution as unjust power makes men wretched and unhappy. When defined as skill, its students need to learn about justice so that it can be used in a just way. There are various views of what is just and unjust; hence, teachers need to teach about justice so that students acquire it in practice.

Gorgias defines the art of rhetoric as the...

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