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In the “Encomium of Helen” and “That Nothing Exists”, Gorgias offers an account of the function of language and speech that has been contested by other philosophers. This theory concerns the function and structure of language. Gorgias presents language in this sense as a framework for putting forth the inferences of actions and the manner in which decisions concerning the actions were arrived at. According to Gorgias, good mannerism is the order which is considered proper to the state of a city. Well, for any theory to make sense, it must be coherent with other truths and theories which have been attested. According to Plato, anything that is worthy of praise including a man, woman, speech, deed, city or action should be honored with acclaim, while what is not worthy ought to be branded with blame. The “Encomium of Helen” regarding Helen of Troy is what Gorgias uses to put forward his argument. He gives four ways through which Helen would have been persuaded: through the gods, physical force, love, and through language/speech. Gorgias digs deeper into the subject of existence where it is apparently easy for him to show that being is unchanging, one and timeless; the same way it is to demonstrate that being does not have any existence. I do not agree with Gorgias about the great potential language has for the control over the minds of others.
Gorgias inclines to the idea that language had control over Helen. According to Gorgias, if it was speech that made Helen leave her country, then it was even easier to take away any blame from Helen. Gorgias presents speech as such a powerful device that attains the most divine exploits with the least and smallest evident body. Gorgias says that language is able to put off fear, mitigate pain, increase pity and even create joy. At this point, Gorgias makes a comparison of the effect that comes through language on the mind with the effect caused by drugs on the body. The fact is, rhetoric is a skill and in most cases a mere flattery. Therefore, Gorgias’ presentation of language potential and the ability to have control over other people’s mind should be found on tangible information and facts otherwise people will just get amusement and continue living as before. This is basically on grounds of their knowledge concerning a particular subject that the writer or speaker puts in rhetoric form.
There could be two types of rhetoric, which Gorgias does not differentiate. One would be flattery and an outrageous public harangue. The other rhetoric form gets the souls of individuals regarding them as good and making efforts to say the best whether it be pleasing or unpleasing to the audience. The idea is to say something which can be generally admired. Therefore, Gorgias sentiments seem to fall under either of these categories. Even though rhetoric has the ability to be used impartially, it is flattery. Apparently Gorgias made the audience have a sense of worthiness since they can incline to the argument in the rhetorician. All the same, there are many risks associated with great eloquence and thus, what people need is philosophy to make them learn the right things. The public should learn philosophy in order to have a defense against the great rhetorical skill possessed by speakers and writers. Essentially, oratory cannot be made perfect without philosophy.
The analogy to a given dialectic has a very crucial implication for the rhetoric status. Rhetoric is not an art and cannot be linked to a specific subject. Real arts are defined by their particular subjects like shoemaking or medicine that is defined by what is being produced. Thus, on matters of language, dialectic does not have a specific subject. It is very important to see that it cannot rest on a particular method. Therefore, the approach that is used by Gorgias in addressing language is flawed in that it does not have a reason of why certain arguments are compelling while others are not. While Gorgias talks of “Encomium of Helen” and “That Nothing Exists”, his assertions must be coherent enough with other truths that the audience can identify with. Therefore, language will seek to build from the known to the unknown and thus bringing about coherence.
Gorgias is basically ignorant of the exact nature and abiding by these things as he insists at the same time that no individual can maintain any other opinion without being ridiculous. Plato bravely highlights the difference between oration considered to be playful and philosophy that is deemed serious (Herrick, 2008). Plato argues that Gorgias is not a true philosopher considering his so-called work of philosophy on “non-existence”. Even though Gorgias criticizes an Eleatic convention together with the founder, he does not deny philosophy altogether. Gorgias describes philosophy as a kind of seduction when he talks about “non-existence”. In this sense, therefore, Gorgias gives credit to philosophers. Language and speech should thus be firmly rooted in sound philosophy and known truths. This way, philosophy becomes superior to rhetoric.
In conclusion, the “Encomium of Helen” and “That Nothing Exists” by the Gorgias is a subject that draws tension amongst philosophers. There is a mild conflict in the assertions of Gorgias with other truths and thus affecting the coherence found within the function of language and speech. Gorgias expresses doubt of some very fundamental truths based on morality as in the case with Helen of Troy. The subject is among other questions, which agitate human life as the main principle that cannot be shaken. Most important of all, it is good to have language full of beauty and resonating power. This is meant to make the philosophically peaceful and calm utterances change the exciting tendency and incredible tense rush of the age. Gorgias only increases various grievous nerves and troubles of language. People’s minds can only be controlled through logic. Coherence is thus paramount if other truths will be delivered and passed on from one person to another through language.