Shame and Ambiguity in Plato’s Gorgias

Shame and Ambiguity in Plato’s Gorgias R. Bensen Cain In Plato's Gorgias (482c­484c) Callicles charges Socrates for using sophistic rhetorical techniques to refute Polus in two ways.1 First, he accuses Socrates of drawing on Polus's sense of shame in getting Polus to agree to the complex thesis that doing wrong is better but more shameful than suffering it. In stating this charge, Callicles also faults Polus for giving in to his sense of shame. Callicles claims that Polus only agreed that doing wrong is more shameful (aischion) than suffering it because he was ashamed (aischuntheis) to deny it (482e3­4). Second, he charges Socrates with deliberately misleading Polus by shifting between two usages of the word shameful (aischron). Callicles distinguishes between two types of shame and points out that an act may be shameful by nature (kata phusin) or shameful by convention (kata nomon). These two ways of judging an action are "for the most part . . . opposed to each other, so that if a man is ashamed (aischuntai) and dares not say what he thinks, he is forced to contradict himself " (482e9­483a1). As Callicles sees the problem, the charges of shame and ambiguity (as I will refer to them) are related http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy and Rhetoric Penn State University Press

Shame and Ambiguity in Plato’s Gorgias

Philosophy and Rhetoric, Volume 41 (3) – Sep 17, 2008

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Publisher
Penn State University Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The Pennsylvania State University
ISSN
1527-2079
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Abstract

R. Bensen Cain In Plato's Gorgias (482c­484c) Callicles charges Socrates for using sophistic rhetorical techniques to refute Polus in two ways.1 First, he accuses Socrates of drawing on Polus's sense of shame in getting Polus to agree to the complex thesis that doing wrong is better but more shameful than suffering it. In stating this charge, Callicles also faults Polus for giving in to his sense of shame. Callicles claims that Polus only agreed that doing wrong is more shameful (aischion) than suffering it because he was ashamed (aischuntheis) to deny it (482e3­4). Second, he charges Socrates with deliberately misleading Polus by shifting between two usages of the word shameful (aischron). Callicles distinguishes between two types of shame and points out that an act may be shameful by nature (kata phusin) or shameful by convention (kata nomon). These two ways of judging an action are "for the most part . . . opposed to each other, so that if a man is ashamed (aischuntai) and dares not say what he thinks, he is forced to contradict himself " (482e9­483a1). As Callicles sees the problem, the charges of shame and ambiguity (as I will refer to them) are related

Journal

Philosophy and RhetoricPenn State University Press

Published: Sep 17, 2008

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