- Published: August 27, 2022
- Updated: August 27, 2022
- University / College: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
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Textual Analysis Term Paper: Gorgias As history suggests, Plato was Socrates’ prime student. Plato’s key belief was that the ultimate reality was the notion and concepts of things. His deduction was that what we see in the physical world are simply abstract representations of universal ideas. Consequently, Plato supposed, that to correctly understand reality one must transcend the physical reality into the world of ideas, which is seen in Plato’s “ Gorgias. ” A lot of the dialects in this piece of work are full of Socratic irony. Plato’s main idea of the true ature of reality centers on the abstract perception of universals and what creates the physical reality. As Platonic Realism proposes, to be able to sensually perceive these universals, as they have no temporal traits is impossible. In “ Gorgias” we are able to see through Socrates’ and Callicles’ dispute about justice, the ideas that form the foundation about what consists to be a successful political leader. Plato recognizes the conventional meaning of pleasure as satisfaction, but to understand his view of the moral dimension behind it there is a particular framework behind the concept of eauty. In “ Gorgias”, he has Socrates say that things, both concrete things such as bodies, and abstract things such as laws, and even knowledge, are beautiful “ on account of either some pleasure or benefit, or both. ” (Plato, p. 72) In the beginning of the discussion between Socrates and Callicles itself, Socrates mentions that the basis of their arguments will be with what they both love: philosophy; Athenian democracy. To understand Socrates’ arguments it is foremost important to notice that he directs his arguments towards the pursuit of pleasure, as he implies it is the highest good of uman life. The difference between Callicles and Socrates on pleasure and the good is that Callicles thinks the structures of the pleasures one pursues or the pains one avoids is futile whereas Socrates puts extra attention to these structures. Callicles and Socrates both contradict each other in this debate, nevertheless they agree on one aspect where he they Socrates says casually that “ it is uglier to act unjustly than to be treated unjustly. ” (Plato, p. 98) which means it is better off to be unjust than to suffer it since suffering from injustice is more agonizing than doing it. Despite the fact that Socrates admits that suffering injustice is more painful than doing it, the consequences of having pleasure from inflicting injustice are nevertheless worse. Socrates’ brings up his argument of self-control, through mentioning that suffering injustice is conflicting withhappinessand doing injustice is in fact even worse than suffering it, accordingly doing injustice must also be conflicting with one’s happiness. It is because Callicles rejects self-control as being fitting with happiness, that he is forced to ignore the consequences of his actions.
Therefore, to prove Callicles wrong, Socrates uses rhetoric in a way that is philosophical to guide his logic. He suggests that life without knowing the full form of pleasures, without having a knowledge of their natures, basically, what their structures are, is a life which is destined to be frustrated. It becomes a unhealthy experience to achieve happiness. Contrasting this, Callicles thinks that one can understand that suffering injustice is automatically more painful than inflicting injustice withrespectto happiness. Socrates tries to convince Callicles that this thought is incorrect.
Socrates’ no doubt tries to prove Callicles wrong and in this case, he mentions that one has to know the nature which implies the structure, of the pleasure of one’s pain, which is how Socrates’ emphasizes on self-indulgence. Throughout the dispute, the difference between a true and a false pleasure is that one needs to examine the nature of every pleasure so as to find out whether it is a true pleasure. “ But still, even now, state whether you say that a pleasant thing and a good thing are the same or whether there is anything of [the things that are] pleasant that is not good? ” (Plato, p. 09) If the nature of pleasure is solely based on action this is considered a bad pleasure, which we get from cooking and make-up as Socrates suggests. The first step is fought over the issue of whether all pleasures are good. Socrates thinks that only true pleasures are good whereas Callicles thinks that all pleasures whether true or false are good. The second step is fought over what is necessary for happiness. Socrates thinks that self-control is what is necessary to experience the true pleasures and to avoid the false ones; “[…] it is possible for a man who is distressed to feel joy. ” Plato, 113) This presents why many would call some pleasures bad is that they lead to such things as sickness andpoverty, which inevitably lead to pain. The basis on which this is important is because Socrates gets Callicles to agree that a person’s body is good if it has the structure appropriate to it, which is in this case, health. Socrates has a deep meaning to it since he mentions that having a healthy body is nothing without the soul, rather that it represents what the body is for. Therefore, when Socrates claims that the soul is good if it has the order and structure appropriate to it, that s, justice and self-control, he is claiming how the soul is good and not just what the soul is for. “ And so examine first whether these things seem to you to have been sufficiently and whether there are some other such matters concerning the soul, some having to do with technical skill […] but others that make small account of [what is best]; and consider in turn, just as [in the case of cooking], only the pleasure of the soul […]. ” (Plato, 123) Therefore, if the soul has the virtue appropriate to a soul, that person will be, in due course happy. If the soul cannot do this, nd does not have the virtue appropriate to a soul, that person will be miserable. As mentioned earlier, Socrates argues that self-control is what controls one’s desires and pleasures. The most important interpretation of what this amounts to would have Socrates arguing for the rational part of our soul ” controlling” the desires. self-control is, ultimately self- control, which implies that naturally, it is impossible for the self-controlled person to do what is not apt. Where the dialect would overlap is if the soul is not able to attain happiness, unless of course, it has structure and order which is known as self-control, then Socrates ill have proven that not only does it fit with happiness but that it is equally necessary for happiness and if Socrates supports the opposite of this argument, it would automatically support what Callicles’ argues. Callicles’ love for “ demos” may at some point be portrayed as being anti- conventional. Callicles mentions that the democracy and its laws is a way to control the stronger people, the weak people wanted to unite as one to overthrow the people bestowed with higher power. Callicles’ position on the relationship between the powerful and the normal people turns out to be most definitely conventional, which explains why he has uch love for the population, which may bias his politicalleadership. What Socrates had basically done was to enslave Callicles into a web of words. Socrates used Callicles’ belief of “ demos” but also polis law, pleasures, and desires’ to thrust Socrates’ ideas on Callicles. For example, if we take Socrates’ technical approach, any common person would assume that in pursuing pleasure, Callicles is not doing what he wants, “[…] pleasant is different from the good, and that each of the two has its own concern and method of possessing [it] – the hunt for the pleasant and the hunt for the good […]. (Plato, p. 122)
According to that passage, we all want what is truly good, but the pleasures that seem good to Callicles are not those that are essentially good, so pursuing pleasure is not what Callicles wants. It only portrays that Callicles pursues it unwillingly (Plato, p. 139). As a result, this shows that Callicles lacks the ability to do things as per his wish, which eventually Callicles is what we can label a “ slave” or even in the context of this work a lover of the people. Kreon from the Antigone would agree with Socrates, as he would remain adamant about proving his point as Socrates is doing in his dispute with Callicles.
No matter how contradictory he may sound he would rather inflict injustice onto Antigone than being defeated by a puny little girl. “ Now that I’ve caught her as the only one In all the city who openly defied me, I won’t be seen as false to my own word By all the city – I’ll kill her. ” (Sophocles, p. 82) The fact that Kreon honors his power more than morality proves that he would make sure his point came across the population and his son even if he had to go against them. His intention would only change if it benefitted himself. To conclude, one might think that the reason behind Callicles’ interpretation of eeking pleasure from his own desires may be his relationship with the people. He might consider the pursuit of their pleasure in preference to his own, and so he is their servant in the sense that he prioritizes their liking over his own. In this dispute nevertheless, Socrates does not make a flat out criticism about Callicles’ ideals instead he makes an association behind the pursuit of pleasure with serving the “ demos”. They reach to somewhat of an understanding between them as they distinguish between pursuing one’s own pleasure and that of others never becomes an issue. Socrates characterizes
Callicles’ view as that virtue is within the satisfaction of his own desires and those of others; “[…] that of the desires, some, being filled, make the person better, [and] these one should accomplish, but others, [being filled, make the person worse […]. (Plato, p. 128). Whereas Socrates is concerned, by philosophical rhetoric he can succeed in getting his ideas through any skilled person and therefore, may be a successful political leader. Bibliography Plato, Gorgias. (Newburyport: R. Pullins Company, 2007), 23-171. Sophocles, Antigone. (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc. , 2007), 52-116.