Geburah has logged on. Everyone wants to be elite, and next to no one wants to do what is required for it. If someone isn’t frequently talking about Plato, Aristotle, Kant, or Hegel (approximately speaking) they’re probably a fraud and you should stay away from them. I count scientists and mathematicians here too- those are just philistines. We all have our pet-favorite, mine happens to be Plato. This doesn’t have to be intimidating either, I remember the first time I enunciated the word “Plato” and a girl laughed at me, I was probably 15 years old and pronounced it as “Platt-oe”.
It’s probably true what I shared the other day, that Strauss is the final great commentator of the western tradition. The problem with him is, to my knowledge, he never wrote about what the Neoplatonists and “Renaissancers” considered the high-points of Plato’s corpus. Nonetheless, he’s a pro at politics and political science has its place- there’s a division of labor within the field of philosophy itself, and everyone has a certain mind for a certain aspect of the One. Lucky for us there are extant manuscripts of courses Strauss gave on the Gorgias, what the Neoplatonists took to be where Plato’s political philosophy resided. Also, take it how you want, the Gorgias was the subject of the course Strauss was giving when he died. In what survives from that, he emphasizes at the outset its connection to Aristophanes’ Clouds, how Chaerephon is a prominent character in both.
Plato WAS writing in the Aeschylean-Aristophanic tradition of tragicomedy. His so-called “dialogues” are plays. In the Gorgias there are three “acts”. These acts are divided by the characters Socrates speaks to. Chaerephon is his “friend” in this- his enemies are Gorgias, Polus, and Callicles. For those familiar with the Republic, Callicles especially is very reminiscent of Thrasymachus. He’s the quintessential “man of the world”. The “theme” of this play is ostensibly rhetoric but that’s just the surface, it’s deeper than that, hence the Neoplatonists took it as representative of political science.
“God I just hate you so much, I can’t even listen to you about Plato.” Why, because I’ve made you feel like Gorgias and you know I’m right? You’re not a master of duplicity are you?
Strauss characterizes the Gorgias as the quest for the noble kind of rhetoric. What he elsewhere deems “the art of writing” could be seen as a sort of euphemism for rhetoric. Without rhetoric you’re going to be persecuted, so the question is what’s the noble kind?
So remember how the Parmenides is in part a critique of the real-life person Zeno? The Gorgias is a critique of Aristophanes. Poetry is a form of rhetoric. The Clouds is an accusation that Socrates doesn’t know what it is to speak nobly. The Gorgias is Plato’s response to that.
I wanted to find out for myself if the City despises philosophy. And it does. It wants to kill you for it. It’s true, have no doubt about it. They’re not indifferent toward it, they actively want you to suffer and perhaps die. Thus, the question of a noble rhetoric is an important one.
This is interesting- consider this in the context of what I said above about Strauss’s lack of writings on what the Neoplatonists considered the high-points
to be effective, such rhetoric must abstract from or remain silent about the peak of philosophy, as is indicated by the absence of the doctrine of the ideas from the dialogue. “The peak is missing,” Strauss says repeatedly in the 1963 course.
It’s funny how the same people who despise you are simultaneously curious about what that peak IS. You can’t have it both ways, my dear comrade.
Hmm Strauss assigned the 1925 Loeb edition of the Gorgias. I’m a Hackett fetishist myself. Is this like when Patrick is talking about Huey Lewis in American Psycho? No, because I’m normal.
Strauss is great, the following is why I don’t let it bother too much that he’s a Jew
There is a kind of writer whom we may call, without disrespect, thoughtless and tasteless detractors of Plato. Most of them are a kind of vulgar Marxists, you know, who know in advance that this can only be superstructure—you know, this kind of thing. I don’t want to mention any names of authors, but I think these people don’t have to be taken seriously.
Without disrespect- exactly. It’s just a statement of fact that they’re thoughtless and tasteless.
This is crazy, I didn’t know this
The first history [of political philosophy], as far as I know, was written about 120 years ago [by Stahl].
The historical consciousness is something new we moderns have.
The theological-political problem COULD ONLY BE formulated so clearly by Strauss 120 some years after that history began to be written…
And sorry to speak so frankly but this Jerusalemite couldn’t formulate it as clearly as possible either.
So now I’m curious what wonders that Stahl book contains. He wrote it from a Christian (prot pietist) perspective – nothing wrong with that! Just that it’s probably poliphi in embryo. Heh, Schmitt exposes him as a Sabbatean (converso infiltrator) too, perfect. See, we study the Gorgias to more easily detect modern Gorgiases. Note- most people you encounter in society are a type of Gorgias.
Anyway we’re just trying to get a fuller grasp of this dialogue. Chaerephon is the very same person who asked the Oracle at Delphi if there is anyone wiser than Socrates, and thus forms the story behind the Apology. In that, Chaerephon is depicted as being a friend of the demos. Thus, Chaerephon can be seen as a link between Socrates and the demos as represented by the three sophists in the Gorgias.
“That’s rude to talk about people that way!” I’m only indirectly hinting via my own style of rhetoric that contemporary people tend to be demotic sophists, don’t worry about it. Strauss in this commentary is of course not so candid.
“That’s mean to think not very highly of the demos!” You mean the vapid and vacuous, superficial and passion-driven multitude? They deserve the highest esteem, what are you talking about?
Better put a pretty bow on them when you talk about them or they’ll want you dead.
Or if you speak “Spanish” you might call them negras, figuratively speaking.
If you want a Neoplatonist take on this dialogue though the only surviving commentary was written by a fellow named Olympiodorus.
Strauss is usually pretty stellar though. Socrates asks Chaerephon to ask his friend Gorgias what his art is and clarifies that it would be similar to asking what a shoemaker does.
What is the peculiarity of the art of shoemaking? Well, a shoemaker makes shoes. Good. And shoes are for the purpose of protecting our feet; it is a protective art, protective against harshness of roads and so on. Protection will be a great theme of this work.
The nature of noble rhetoric is being hinted at here. Don’t call them the rabble, that’s not protective. Don’t call women mindless hoes that one buys with things and by being a rhetorical citizen, or jews murder-worthy, totalitarian kikes with a falsified history, etc. Oh what’s that, they won’t talk about the Gorgias like this in the university?
Anyway recall that Socrates was notoriously barefoot as he wandered around Athens.
Strauss is just so perceptive though- you miss like half the text without him
[Chaerephon] went to Delphi and asked the god about Socrates, and this started the whole terrible mess, at the end of which Socrates was executed.
See, this isn’t in the Gorgias at all, Plato only is indirectly hinting at this. Spoiler alert- the final interlocutor of this dialogue, Callicles, remains unconvinced at the end. Just as Socrates’ defense wasn’t enough to prevent his execution. It’s a lesson that people can’t be convinced by the truth.
Look again at what we can take as a provisional rangordnung of Strauss’s reading of Plato
The Meno is the sequel to the Gorgias (Meno was a student of Gorgias’s). Protagoras was the other most prominent rhetorician in Athens. The link with the Apology I’ve already noted above. Strauss was a teacher of rhetoric in large part. Not like that’s a bad thing- do you like the taste of hemlock? Hey, don’t knock it til you try it.
It’s important to understand this distinction, because that’s the only way you’re able to determine who DOESN’T practice rhetoric. People like Franki and Hodos. Dugin is definitely a type of rhetorician on the other hand. And again, certain rhetoricians have their place. Just don’t be too quick to pat yourself on the back for being one, because the motives behind it aren’t always pure.