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La rhétorique au cœur de l’examen réfutatif socratique : le jeu des émotions dans le Gorgias

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Abstract This paper attempts to demonstrate that the Socratic critique of Gorgias’ rhetoric is not merely destructive, but actually constructive and leads to the consideration of an important rhetorical component in Socratic cross-examination, as practised in the Gorgias. I argue that the Socratic critique of rhetoric is based on the moral neutrality of Sophistic rhetoric, defining it first as a tool, then as an art of manipulation, which might lead to immoralism, as embodied by Callicles. Yet there is a positive manipulation that is practised by Socrates. Having as its devices irony and parrhêsia, it aims at a psychological destabilisation of the interlocutor through the emotion of shame. In fact, shame appears to be a powerful means of refutation. Yet the destabilisation does not cause the interlocutor to adhere to a new belief and to arouse in him pleasure, as in the case of Gorgias’ rhetoric, but rather it seeks to provoke the desire to philosophise.

Affiliations: 1: Philosophy Department, DMS 8102, Faculty of Arts, University of Ottawa 55 Laurier avenue, Ottawa ON K1N 6N5 Canada


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