Ideas of Gorgias, by Theme

[Greek, c.483 - 420 BCE, Born at Leontini, Sicily. Taught by Zeno of Elea. Visited Athens. A sophist, who boasted that he could defend any opinion. Died in Sicily.]

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7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / d. Non-being
Not-Being obviously doesn't exist, and the five modes of Being are all impossible
     Full Idea: I. Nothing exists. a) Not-Being does not exist. b) Being does not exist as everlasting, as created, as both, as One, or as Many. II. If anything does exist, it is incomprehensible. III. If existence is comprehensible, it is incommunicable.
     From: report of Gorgias (fragments/reports [c.443 BCE], B03) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 09
     A reaction: [Also Sextus Empiricus, Against Logicians I.65-] For Part I he works through all the possible modes of being he can think of, and explains why none of them are possible. It is worth remembering that Gorgias loved rhetoric, not philosophy!
19. Language / F. Communication / 1. Rhetoric
Destroy seriousness with laughter, and laughter with seriousness
     Full Idea: Destroy the seriousness of others with laughter, and their laughter with seriousness.
     From: Gorgias (fragments/reports [c.443 BCE]), quoted by Aristotle - The Art of Rhetoric 1419b
     A reaction: This sounds like brilliant tactical advice, which should be on the wall of every barrister's chambers. This is a case of rhetoric having something to teach us which is nothing at all to do with truth. It is more like learning karate.
Gorgias says rhetoric is the best of arts, because it enslaves without using force
     Full Idea: Gorgias insists that the art of persuasion is superior to all others because it enslaves all the rest, with their own consent, not by force, and is therefore by far the best of all the arts.
     From: report of Gorgias (fragments/reports [c.443 BCE]) by Plato - Philebus 58a
     A reaction: A nice point, and it is not unreasonable to rank the arts in order of their power. To enchant, without achieving agreement, and to speak truth without persuading, are both very fine, but there is something about success that cannot be gainsaid.