Rhetoric as "Cookery for the Soul"? Attempt of Interpretation of "Gorgias", 462b3-466a3

Martin Cajthaml

The aim of the present paper is to clarify the meaning of the assertions made by Socrates about the nature of rhetoric in the Gorgias, 462b3–466a3, especially the following two statements: a. rhetoric is the counterfeit of apart of politics, namely of justice; and b. rhetoric is similar to cookery. The reason for statement a. is that rhetoric is akind of "flattery“ that "sneaked into“ politics; it neither knows what the good state of the soul is, nor how to maintain or restore it, and it does not even care about such issues. Instead, it attracts human folly by presenting itself as the means toward apossession and maintenance of political power, and consequently appears to people as the true art of politics. This makes rhetoric similar to cookery (cf. b.), since it too is akind of "flattery“, and its relation to body is similar to the above-mentioned relation of rhetoric to human soul. However, the strict analogy between the two is established by the fact that they "sneaked into“ two kinds of art– namely, justice and medicine– that both take care of the good state of the object entrusted to their care inan analogous way: both restore it after it has been lost, either by wrong doing or by sickness.