First Reading Assignment-1 - Trad 104: Justice and Virtue...

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Unformatted text preview: Trad 104: Justice and Virtue Introduction to the Gorgias Plato's dialogue Gorgias is nominally an enquiry into the nature and usefulness of rhetoric. But it also raises important questions about justice and virtue: What is virtue? Do we have reason to be virtuous people? In particular, do we have reason to be just, where justice is understood conventionally? These questions arise naturally, because of the role that rhetoric played in ancient Athens of Plato's day (the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.). The major governing institutions of Athens (the Assembly, the Council, and the law courts) were democratic bodies, in which decisions were made by vote of the members. Those who could speak persuasively in front of these bodies wielded significant political power. There thus arose a group of intellectuals who, for money, taught rhetoric to rich politically ambitious young men. These intellectuals, who came to be called 'the Sophists', catered to the interests of those who valued their own outward --...
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