The Christian Justinian closed the Academy down in the 6th century
So, close to a millennium of dialogues.
My previous post got me thinking about “sophists”, so I typed in the name of the main sophist from Athens, Gorgias, on z-library and there are about ten books on that dialogue of Plato’s alone, one being the Alexandrian Olympiodorus’s. I want to try to see an originary view of rhetoric, which is the subject of the dialogue, and which I see as a highly relevant subject to understand for our time. If you look at the courses Strauss gave, the Gorgias is taught more than anything else. It’s not either/or, philosophy OR rhetoric, rhetoric is recognized as necessary when one glimpses the great gulfs between different sorts of souls. That previous sentence of course is not rhetorical at all, people use rhetoric to hide that painful fact. Still, it can be misused, and Gorgias tends to be seen as the prime exemplar of that–though, I do know of many charlatans in our own time who could perhaps rival him. Today it’s usually people playing the shell game with words to persuade others (and themselves) that a given object is not an object and is rather a rational adult. This is connected with sin and vice- they use rhetoric to explain it away and justify it. And this is everywhere. Thus it’s prudent to study rhetoric. Its misuse often involves persuasion that something is the opposite of what it in fact is. Good rational white man is demon, black twerking lustmonkey is the ideal role model for your young daughter. Such a thick layer of rhetoric surrounds feminism too- the reality without rhetoric is that the typical woman seems to be a system of holes and not much else. Use their mouth hole to eat, their ass hole to crap it out, their pussy hole to be fucked, and their mouth hole again to talk about how they’re a system of holes, and that you need to give them money so they can fill the other hole in their life with material possessions. Seems like a pretty simple creature to me, I’m not sure if it should be regarded as equal. Without rhetoric they don’t really have much going for them. And the other way they use their mouth hole (besides blowing zogslaves) is to nag and preferably #cancel anyone who questions their rhetoric. I try to educate them to not be such pathetic creatures, mostly to no avail. Then, others, of a slightly more advanced nature will use rhetoric to justify sloth, such as why they didn’t read Aquinas for two hours even after I told them that’s the finest art. They use rhetoric to present reasonable-seeming pseudo-reasons why they shouldn’t reflect, and why they should be creatures of sensation, of the five senses. Animals learned to talk and that’s mostly all they can do with it, convince each other why it’s good to be an animal. I think many need to be looked in the eye and called a nigger, honestly it would be good for them. Sorry, is this not something you expected to see in a writing on Plato? He was himself a rhetorician, the good kind I’d argue, and that means he used rhetoric to direct people to the non-rhetorical. Most use rhetoric to hide reality, others can use it to reveal reality. There are various implications to a given statement that only few will pick up on without it being said directly. This is about a thing’s telos. Good rhetoric offers the core telos, and it’s up to the listener to unfold it. Any thoughts, Gorgias?
One might infer that Olympiodorus was being sneaky in writing about the dialogue on rhetoric given the fact that Christians had recently closed down the Academy. That might be perceived as a rhetorical writing on rhetoric, and rhetorical in the good way. To be honest, Christians tend to be intrinsically rhetorical people, and that can go either good or bad. Likewise, in our time, prog rhetoric can be either good or bad, for instance if one used rhetoric to convince one’s little daughter she has just the same potential as any boy to grow up to write insightfully about Aristophanes some day. It isn’t often used for noble goals though. Why your daughter should be a twerkmonkey sell-out shrew like you, more often. Why ghetto values should be affirmed as good, why Jews need to be felt sorry for, etc. All rhetoric of the bad kind.
Anyway ah I love to see this statement (on the Gorgias)
His investigation is classic, in the sense that one can argue with plausibility that no later investigation has surpassed its clarity and force on the basic questions.
Eliot has a book on What Is a Classic, I might have to do a post on that! Rhetoric of course is used today to explain why classics aren’t classics. By the way, speaking of “pokemon” there’s undoubtedly one to catch for every dialogue of Plato’s.
Does that make you uneasy at all, when a name is given to what you probably do? Rhetoric. That’s what it is whenever you “educate people to acknowledge the rationality of the government”. It’s not rational, it makes people’s souls into Bacon paintings, thus any acknowledgement of its rationality is necessarily rhetorical.