In The Gorgias, Plato uses the character, Socrates, in a debated dialogue to get his ideas out on his position on rhetoric and philosophy. He views rhetoric as a knack, or experience created into an art, producing delight and gratification, rather than true art.
Plato’s primary argument against sophistry is that it is not an art, but only a knack because sophists are not concerned with what is best for a person’s soul, but only concerned with what pleases their audience. The analogy he uses is the true politician is concerned with the soul, as the doctor to the body and a sophist is concerned with the soul, as the pastry chef is concerned with the body. A pastry is not good for the health of the human body and the thoughts and focus of sophists are not in good intentions of a humans soul. Plato does not see them as noble rhetoricians, but instead, sees them as ignoble and the counterfeit part of politics. He describes them as having the least power of all citizens. Sophists also go against Plato’s idea on teachers, that they have a public obligation to teach their students, by accepting pay for their teachings.
Plato’s second argument against the sophists involves their means of persuasion that produce conviction without knowledge, instead of using means of persuasion that produce knowledge. Sophists produce belief instead of knowledge and teach their students to memorize information in a convincing manner, but not the actual meaning behind it. According to the textbook, they also taught their students that “notions of truth had to be adjusted to fit the ways of a particular audience in a certain time and with a certain set of beliefs and laws.”. Sophists claim to teach us about justice, while having no real knowledge on the subject. Plato argues that sophists are only interested in beliefs and opinions about justice and not justice itself, nor the meaning behind it. So he believes that since they do not know the true meaning...
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