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Philosophical Views on the Rhetoricians and the Tyrants Essay

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Updated: May 6th, 2020

Plato used the Gorgias to express what Socrates believed to be the truth about rhetoricians, tyrants, and philosophy. In the Gorgias, Socrates has a debate with Gorgias, Polus, and Callicles. They all bring to mind some crucial arguments about life.

The dinner meeting discussion happened between Socrates and some Sophists. The guests were happy and eager to follow the debate of the people they believed were geniuses of their time. Rhetoric was the art of persuasion that was famous during classical Athens (Plato., Schofield, and Griffith 250). People adopted it as a way the orators used in convincing others to accept their views and opinions.

In the first dialogue, Socrates cross-examines Gorgias. His intention was to discredit rhetoric as a baseless form of speech that only gives credit to the speaker. It only gives people away with their words but does not teach people morality (Plato., Schofield, and Griffith 250). Socrates uses this moment to show how rhetoricians have made the guilty to evade justice because they knew how to use their words. It has also caused people to persuade the political class through the assemblies to make decisions that were unwelcome (Plato., Schofield, and Griffith 250).

The instructors did not care about the results. Socrates also wants the audience to discover that the teacher of such kind of knowledge does not want accountability for the bad things that his students do (Plato., Schofield and Griffith 250).

Socrates also believes that one can err, but one must also seek to redeem oneself fairly through the available justice system than to find freedom through the careful use of words. He also thinks that rhetoricians do not impart knowledge to the learners. The main reason for doing what they do is to use the phrases for personal gain (Plato., Schofield, and Griffith 250).

They just want to gain power and pleasure. Instead of producing knowledge, rhetoricians only sway people to a particular belief. Rhetoric does more harm to society than good. He believes that philosophy should hold high esteem in society because it investigates into meanings of ideas and concepts much more deeply. People need to believe in ideas and not just mere convincing words. Rhetoric, on the other hand, looks into the way someone says something rather than what he says.

Socrates continues the same discussion with Polus, who joins the debate. He compares the rhetoric to flattery that only seeks to gratify the desires of the speaker, which are selfish. He says that orators and tyrants do not have the power they think they have because they do not do what they wish to do (Plato., Schofield and Griffith 250). They only do the things that gratify their selfish ambitons. It is better for a man to do the right thing for his people than just seeking personal gain.

People should not celebrate those who do evil so well that they save themselves from the desired punishment. The unjust and wicked people are wretched. But the person who says and does things to escape justice is not the right person the society needs. Justice must prevail over and above personal choices. People must know the difference between knowledge and opinion. Philosophy imparts knowledge, while rhetoric only gives the celebrated view.

The tyrants and rhetorics are much the same. They oppress people and take away their property. They also banish them from their homes and lands. When Socrates meets with Callicles, he says that Philosophy stays the same because it is the factual truth. Socrates believes that the law must punish the undisciplined people in society for justice to prevail. Philosophy is not easy, and many rhetoricians cannot accept it because it addresses the morals of society. It separates the wrong from the right and punishes the offenders (Plato., Schofield, and Griffith 250).

What Socrates is saying might seem true, but it is also important to note that words have power. Even Philosophy has to apply some rhetoric to enhance its arguments. One objection is that many people look at how one says something. It is the same rhetoric that politicians use to win elections and arguments in the assemblies (Plato., Schofield, and Griffith 250).

By so doing, they manage to manipulate the entire system to their advantage. Some court cases have had to go bad sometimes because of the application of rhetoric to the advantage of the user. It only proves that they have real power because it is those who have power that controls people.

Only a few learned people can use philosophy. But the majority would rather chart their way using rhetoric. In as much as it would seem wrong, rhetoric has given real power in many instances. The tyrants have also added to the number with much enthusiasm (Plato., Schofield and Griffith 250). They control the affairs of their subjects. They reign with tyranny, and at the end of the day, it is the man who tells others what to do that has the real power.

Socrates might not agree with such an objection. He might say that philosophers give instructions and argue with facts. It is not important to have a way with words but to make them work for eternity. Socrates would care more about the good than the evil that one does. One must observe the intentions of his action and the result more than how one does things (Plato., Schofield, and Griffith 250). Socrates would feel unhappy if tyranny and rhetoric would rule the hearts of men.

Perhaps he could repeat the story of the judgment, which he believes. In his story, Zeus causes people to die so that he can use his children to judge them in the afterlife when they are naked. He believes that people must live righteously and choose between what is wrong and what is right. If people continue using lies and forcefully ruling others, they would receive a harsh judgment after their death

The arguments in the debate are very informative. They bring to focus on the importance of having wisdom in matters of the heart. People have to choose which way to go after re-examining their lifestyle in comparison with what is real. Socrates brings this up so well. It is upon the people to decide their fate after knowing the consequences of their choices.

Works Cited

Plato., Malcolm, Schofield, and Tom Griffith. Plato, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.

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