Chapter

“Confound Seriousness with Laughter”: On Monological and Dialogical Reading—the <i>Gorgias</i>

in Socrates & the Fat Rabbis

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226069166
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226069180 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226069180.003.0003
“Confound Seriousness with Laughter”: On Monological and Dialogical Reading—the Gorgias

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In Gorgias, one of Plato's main objectives is the very invention of rhetoric in order to set it up as the other of philosophy. This chapter explores two ways of reading Plato, one that takes fully seriously and at (highly critical) face value his attack on Gorgias and the other Sophists, and one that attends to an at least incipient, if not more, voice of internal critique within Plato himself, the vaunted “second accent” of the heteroglossic or dialogical text. The point is precisely that neither reading is the correct one, but rather that Plato's texts manifest an intention to be read with such dead seriousness in one moment but to be heard as qualifying themselves at another. This chapter develops a dialogical reading of Plato's corpus. There are two kinds of political moves embedded in Plato's monological dialogues. In addition to the politics of Athens, we can also discern a more conventional kind of politics, namely academic rivalry.

Keywords: Gorgias; Plato; rhetoric; philosophy; Sophists; monological dialogues; politics; academic rivalry; Athens

Chapter.  21563 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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