“TNET is a bit like a Socratic dialog . . . once you’ve cut out all of Socrates’s lines,” someone recently remarked on TNET. That gave me the idea of removing Socrates’s lines from a random section of the Gorgias. Here is the result:
Gor. Well, Socrates, I suppose that if the pupil does chance not to know them, he will have to learn of me these things as well.
Gor. To be sure.
Gor. That is clearly the inference.
Gor. Certainly not.
Gor. Clearly not.
Gor. Yes, it was.
Polus. And do even you, Socrates, seriously believe what you are now saying about rhetoric? What! because Gorgias was ashamed to deny that the rhetorician knew the just and the honourable and the good, and admitted that to any one who came to him ignorant of them he could teach them, and then out of this admission there arose a contradiction-the thing which you dearly love, and to which not he, but you, brought the argument by your captious questions-[do you seriously believe that there is any truth in all this?] For will any one ever acknowledge that he does not know, or cannot teach, the nature of justice? The truth is, that there is great want of manners in bringing the argument to such a pass.
Pol. What condition?
Pol. What! do you mean that I may not use as many words as I please?
Pol. To be sure.
Pol. I will ask; and do you answer me, Socrates, the same question which Gorgias, as you suppose, is unable to answer: What is rhetoric?
Pol. Then what, in your opinion, is rhetoric?
Pol. What thing?
Pol. Does rhetoric seem to you to be an experience?
Pol. An experience in what?
Pol. And if able to gratify others, must not rhetoric be a fine thing?
Pol. Did I not hear you say that rhetoric was a sort of experience?
Pol. I will.
Pol. What sort of an art is cookery?
Pol. What then?