‘Gorgias’ By Plato

I was inspired to read Gorgias because Quintilian mentioned it frequently. I was frankly disappointed. Maybe it’s been a while since I read Plato. Maybe I just need to read more Plato to reacquaint myself with a greater portion of his ouevre and philosophical mission.

Quintilian often wrote about the true orator being also a moral person; the two things were inseparable, he claimed. This was in direct response to Plato’s critique (through Socrates) of oratory. He portrayed oratory as a loose cannon; a dangerous skill, untethered from morality and justice. Like giving someone gun, but not talking about gun safety, ethics, caution, nor even attaching a brief note saying, ‘please don’t point this at unarmed black children.’

One way or another, he is critiquing the means of advancing ideas in a democratic milieu, whether through money/power, oratory, or whatnot. Which, we can debate, but Plato’s viewpoint is fundamentally undemocratic and the characters he set Socrates up against, including Gorgias, are such sad straw men.

The introduction of the importance of the afterlife in determining morality was interesting, but the previous argument reminded me a lot of Boethius’ argument for morality in The Consolations of Philosophy.

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