Assignment On Rhetoric In Language

1122 words - 5 pages

Of all the facilities humankind has developed in its timely history, language has been, is and will continue to be the one attribute that sets us apart from all other intelligence. The ability to communicate clearly with each other is so important and beneficial, yet vastly overlooked and grossly misused. As intelligent beings, we all have choices that need to be made, and motives behind our decisions; however, it is language that allows us to communicate, defend, and justify the outcomes of those conclusions. The problem with humans is that the capability of language is constantly used to feed egoistic emotional desires. We have this gift that when utilized sincerely allows us to be rational, respectful, and virtuous; however, feelings drive us to use this function in a greedy, shameful, and immoral manner.There is a stark difference between the two methods, but what brings them together is that they both fall under the guise of rhetoric. Simply stated, rhetoric is the use of language in a specific manner. Socrates identified two forms of rhetoric: philosophical rhetoric and base rhetoric, otherwise known as flattery. The first form aims to discover what is true and false without regard for any advantages or disadvantages. The second form, flattery, aims at persuading others regardless of the truth; it is ultimately the pursuit of one's self-interest.Choosing a specific way to live is not a black and white issue, and we can see this fact present in all of Socrates' dialectic opponents. When he faces off against Gorgias,the two commence their war of words by exploring the moral foundations of law and society, but what is really at stake is what is meant to live a good life. Socrates preaches a life of reflection; he believes that one should examine every action to see its moral implications before proceeding. Socrates firmly believes that one should be accountable for his/her deeds and must also be able to reasonably defend choices that were made. He views rhetoric as an act of self-gratification and pleasure and he proves it through examining Gorgias and his students (who are merely a mirror of society). Rhetoric is simply a method of persuasion employed by Gorgias. Persuasion for Socrates comes in two forms. One form provides belief without knowledge and the other provides knowledge without belief. Socrates points out that rhetoric, as used by people of Gorgias' stature and the like, is the like of language that persuades others to believe without knowing; without instruction of right or wrong. This is most crucial to understand because as it pertains to societal history, the timelines are filled with people who use language to greedily fulfill their humanely uncontrollable desires.The bottom line in this is that is ultimately proves immoral and the overlying message is that nobody seems to be concerned with that fact. Socrates and Gorgias will debate theissue of what rhetoric is feverishly but every time Gorgias is asked to explain what rhetoric is, he fails to give a conclusive answer that aligns with his ideas of what rhetoric is. When asked to define rhetoric, Gorgias gives the initial response that it is an art that is derived from knowledge or a natural ability that works on instinct and reflexes. but Socrates will point out that rhetoric doesn't have to rely on knowledge. Gorgias will say that rhetoric is speech, but that definition doesn't suffice Socrates, as it is vague and even Euthyphronian. This is when Gorgias tells Socrates that rhetoric is a manufacturer of persuasion. Again, Socrates will ask Gorgias for a definition or rhetoric and he responds with what rhetoric does; furthermore, he responds that the ability gives one great power and therefore it is good. Here, Gorgias equates power with what is good.It is here where one may find Gorgias difficult to understand because it is quite obviously that he is a smart man. He has harnessed a talent to be a superior orator but somewhere along the line he lost his rationality (if it was at all ever present). He is the personification of society because he is driven by the lure of power and greed. What is worse off is that Gorgias doesn't believe he is responsible for the actions of his followers when they use this "natural ability" in the interest of self-gratification.Gorgias will argue that rhetoric is morally neutral; that it can be used justly and unjustly and the teacher should bare noblame. Gorgias can teach anyone to be convincing to the public because they're ignorant. Leave it to humans to knowingly convince others of something regardless of justice. As with the rest of Gorgias' arguments, this one will be shot down too as Socrates forces him to admit that one doesn't need to know what justice is to be just. If one doesn't have to know about justice to teach it, then one doesn't know justice and cant teach it. If rhetoric is about things just and unjust, as Gorgias would say, then how can one not know about it? It is proven here that Gorgias' rhetoric doesn't use power for justice, but for something else. He claimed that rhetoric was morally neutral but proves that he does care about justice. Since justice is what rhetoric is about, it can't be neutral.The entire dialogue shows how humans have evolved into the greedy beings that they are. We have created an unfortunate world where everyone is either a Gorgias or a Socrates; the regrettable part is that the majority of people belong to the Gorgias species or immoral and irrational greed; they learn to use language in their favor, they learn to corrupt words. Socrates' defeat can be seen as valiant, but worthless. As is the case in real life, the Socrates' of the world are immensely and unbelievably outnumbered by Gorgias and the ignorant public continues to be engulfed by the magic of words as opposed to the rationality of reason.


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