Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.


Print

Contents

Gorgias (late 5th century BC)

DOI
10.4324/9780415249126-A052-1
DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-A052-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved November 20, 2019, from https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/biographical/gorgias-late-5th-century-bc/v-1

Article Summary

The most important of the fifth-century bc Greek Sophists after Protagoras, Gorgias was a famous rhetorician, a major influence on the development of artistic prose and a gifted dabbler in philosophy. His display speeches, Encomium of Helen of Troy and Defence of Palamedes, are masterpieces of the art of making a weak case seem strong, and brilliant exercises in symmetrical and antithetical sentence structure. Of philosophical importance is his treatise On Not-Being, or On the Nature of Things, an elaborate reversal of the metaphysical argument of Parmenides, showing: (1) that nothing exists; (2) that if anything exists, it cannot be known; and (3) if anything can be known, it cannot be communicated. This nihilistic tour de force is probably a caricature rather than a serious statement of a philosophical position. Gorgias is a master of the persuasive use of logos (discourse), understood both as eloquence and as argumentative skill.

Print
Citing this article:
Kahn, Charles H.. Gorgias (late 5th century BC), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-A052-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis, https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/biographical/gorgias-late-5th-century-bc/v-1.
Copyright © 1998-2019 Routledge.

Related Searches

Periods