Gorgias’ Understanding of Being, Philosophy of BeingJune 27, 2021
The issues that Gorgias deals with can be evaluated under two headings. First, something does not exist; though unknowable; Although it is known, it is the opinions expressed in the form that cannot be transferred to others. The second is his views on language and communication, in relation to the last part of these views.
According to Gorgias, nothing exists: if being is to be spoken of, three things can be said. It either exists or does not exist, or both exists and is absent, that is, a mixture of both. If the first option is valid, it must either be antecedent, occur later, or both. If it is eternal, it has no beginning, therefore it must be unlimited, and therefore has no place in the universe, nothing without a place cannot be; whereas it must be somewhere as a thing if it exists. If it came into being later, it must have come from something. But this also applies to what it occurs, which creates the paradox of infinite regression. Another way of dealing with the subject is whether it is divisible or not.
According to this reasoning, if an entity exists, it must also have a certain size. This will lead to the conclusion that it can be divided indefinitely. However, this should have been impossible. Because something that can be divided forever will no longer be a thing.
In the second part of his line of reasoning, Gorgias states that even if something exists, it cannot be known. Because, according to him, thinking is the thinking of the concepts in the mind. If it is not a concept, then the real is unthinkable. In the third part of his line of reasoning, Gorgias argues that even if a man knows something, he cannot convey it to anyone else. Because data about an object is obtained by eye or ear, but we try to express the data we obtain about it in words, which are very different from the ways we obtain the data. But since language is different from both, it cannot represent them correctly. In other words, for full communication to occur, a complete visual representation of a bridge can be created while talking about it.
Considering all these reasonings, then if there is no truth, there is no information, and in this case, expressiveness will come to the fore in communication. This understanding is discussed in Gorgias’s speech titled Praise of Helen, and the expressiveness of the word, the Logos, is emphasized. In the speech, in order to emphasize the power and influence of Logos on people, “Gorgias made an analogy between rhetorician and doctor, Logos and chemical-magical material” (Wardy, 1996: 46). The analogy used is that physicians can influence the health status of their patients by using drugs. However, words can have beneficial effects as well as harmful effects. The forceful influence of the Logos, which is considered bad, depends on its ability to change people’s moods. Logos can end people’s fears, as well as bring about positive emotional changes. In this respect, it is implied that the effect of the word derives not from itself, but from the purpose for which the word is used: “The inspired magic of words can drive away sadness and direct it to pleasure…” (Gorgias, 10).
What made the Word increase its expressiveness can be understood to a certain extent from this speech of Gorgias. According to Gorgias, the reason why the word can affect people to such a great extent is the limitation of human knowledge. “They persuade countless times by making up words; but if someone has memories of the past, knowledge of the present, and foresight of the future, the power of speech will not be that great. But in this case, deception is easy when people can neither remember the past nor observe the present nor predict the future; That’s why most people offer conviction as advice to the soul. But, being unreliable, conviction is equated with uncertain fortune” (Gorgias, 11).
“What gives Logos the ability to deceive-persuade? According to Gorgias, if everyone has a comprehensive memory of the past, insight into the present, and foresight of the future, Logos will not be in this position” (Wardy, 1996: 42). According to Gorgias, the limitation of human knowledge stems from his inadequacy in three areas. People cannot remember exactly what happened in the past, they cannot know enough about what is happening now, and they cannot make definite predictions about what will happen in the future due to the nature of human knowing. These limitations of human knowing cause people to remain in an environment of uncertainty and therefore insecurity that they will constantly try to overcome.
Because of the vacuum created by this insecurity, meteorologists, orators and philosophy speakers can easily change people’s minds. For example, what the meteorologist does is to overcome the insecurity caused by the limitation of human knowledge by presenting information about the future that is claimed to be true. But Go