Techne in the Gorgias
and The Republic
CCR 711 ::: Sept. 10, 2013
Monday, September 16, 13
Sometimes confusion is
the best response.
Monday, September 16, 13
Lindsey:
So is rhetoric a moral techne? What does that mean?
Better yet,“since knowledge, at least in the form of a
rigoro...
Monday, September 16, 13
The Republic
Monday, September 16, 13
elentic knowledge (235)
Monday, September 16, 13
examples of technai
technitēs
Monday, September 16, 13
Or is it a fact that it needs neither itself nor another
art to consider its advantage and provide against
its deficiency?...
For tell me this: we ordinarily say, do we not, that
each of the arts is different from others because its
power or functi...
“And did we not agree that the benefit derived
from each art is peculiar to it?” “So be it,” he said.
“Any common or gener...
But if we are to consider it 'precisely' medicine
produces health but the fee-earning art the pay,
and architecture a hous...
“Woodfruff makes this point:‘Here is the main bridge
from early Plato’s theory of Techne to later Plato’s
theory of Forms:...
“Woodfruff makes this point:‘Here is the main bridge
from early Plato’s theory of Techne to later Plato’s
theory of Forms:...
areté
Monday, September 16, 13
And is it not also true,” said I, “that the art naturally exists for
this, to discover and provide for each his advantage?...
eros
Monday, September 16, 13
Jason:
Roochnik compares knowing erōtika with “self-
knowledge (239), the search for an erotic quest
(242), true knowledge...
“Moral knowledge, human wisdom, for Plato is not a
techne, because the human realm is acutely infected by
the inflections a...
The Gorgias
Monday, September 16, 13
Lindsey:
What I found so interesting about the discussion of
techne in Gorgias is how it has caused me to
rethink about ho...
What is rhetoric?
Monday, September 16, 13
But there is another class of arts which achieve
their whole purpose through speech and—to put it
roughly—require either n...
Rhetoric’s product
Monday, September 16, 13
Polus
But what do you consider rhetoric to be? [462c]
Socrates
A thing which you say—in the treatise which I read of late—...
It seems to me then, Gorgias, to be a pursuit that is
not a matter of art, but showing a shrewd, gallant
spirit which has ...
Well, fine.
What’s an art?
What’s a habitude?
465a-e
Monday, September 16, 13
and again:
“there were certain industries, some of which
extend only to pleasure, procuring that and no
more, and ignorant...
(500e) cookery seems to me
(501a) not an art but a habitude, unlike medicine, which, I
argued, has investigated the nature...
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Techne in the Gorgias and Republic

  1. 1. Techne in the Gorgias and The Republic CCR 711 ::: Sept. 10, 2013 Monday, September 16, 13
  2. 2. Sometimes confusion is the best response. Monday, September 16, 13
  3. 3. Lindsey: So is rhetoric a moral techne? What does that mean? Better yet,“since knowledge, at least in the form of a rigorous moral techne, is always lacking” and human nature is to appeal to Eros, because Eros seeks that which is lacking, then do we ever truly achieve, know, or embody a moral techne? If the moral techne is always lacking then it can never be determined and as such is it not like chasing after the horizon line? These questions thus cause me to wonder if techne, in this sense, is not something that is sought, but rather the means or mode to seek? But again, what does that mean? In regards to these final two questions—I think this is where rhetoric comes in. Monday, September 16, 13
  4. 4. Monday, September 16, 13
  5. 5. The Republic Monday, September 16, 13
  6. 6. elentic knowledge (235) Monday, September 16, 13
  7. 7. examples of technai technitēs Monday, September 16, 13
  8. 8. Or is it a fact that it needs neither itself nor another art to consider its advantage and provide against its deficiency? For there is no defect or error at all that dwells in any art. Nor does it befit an art to seek the advantage of anything else than that of its object. But the art itself is free from all harm and admixture of evil, and is right so long as each art is precisely and entirely that which it is. And consider the matter in that precise way of speaking. Is it so or not?” (342b and c. Let’s take a look at c in the text.) Monday, September 16, 13
  9. 9. For tell me this: we ordinarily say, do we not, that each of the arts is different from others because its power or function is different? And, my dear fellow, in order that we may reach some result, don't answer counter to your real belief.” “Well, yes,” he said, “that is what renders it different.” And does not each art also yield us benefit that is peculiar to itself and not general, as for example medicine health, the pilot's art safety at sea, and the other arts similarly?” “Assuredly.” (346a) Monday, September 16, 13
  10. 10. “And did we not agree that the benefit derived from each art is peculiar to it?” “So be it,” he said. “Any common or general benefit that all craftsmen receive, then, they obviously derive from their common use of some further identical thing.” “It seems so,” he said. “And we say that the benefit of earning wages accrues to the craftsmen from their further exercise of the wage-earning art.” (346c) Monday, September 16, 13
  11. 11. But if we are to consider it 'precisely' medicine produces health but the fee-earning art the pay, and architecture a house but the fee-earning art accompanying it the fee, and so with all the others, each performs its own task and benefits that over which it is set, but unless pay is added to it is there any benefit which the craftsman receives from the craft?” (346d) Monday, September 16, 13
  12. 12. “Woodfruff makes this point:‘Here is the main bridge from early Plato’s theory of Techne to later Plato’s theory of Forms: if you have a techne, you know the essential nature of your product; essential natures will turn out into the middle dialogues to be Forms.’ Since techne is not restricted to production,Woodruff’s ‘product’ is not quite accurate. Still, he is right: techne implies a knowable ti as a subject matter to be mastered by the technitēs. It is “ti-ness” that, perhaps, the Forms are meant to explain an make possible.” (Roochnik 248) Monday, September 16, 13
  13. 13. “Woodfruff makes this point:‘Here is the main bridge from early Plato’s theory of Techne to later Plato’s theory of Forms: if you have a techne, you know the essential nature of your product; essential natures will turn out into the middle dialogues to be Forms.’ Since techne is not restricted to production,Woodruff’s ‘product’ is not quite accurate. Still, he is right: techne implies a knowable ti as a subject matter to be mastered by the technitēs. It is “ti-ness” that, perhaps, the Forms are meant to explain an make possible.” (248) Monday, September 16, 13
  14. 14. areté Monday, September 16, 13
  15. 15. And is it not also true,” said I, “that the art naturally exists for this, to discover and provide for each his advantage?” “Yes, for this.” “Is there, then, for each of the arts any other advantage than to be perfect as possible2?” (341d) “What do you mean by that question?” “Just as if,” I said, “you should ask me whether it is enough for the body to be the body or whether it stands in need of something else, I would reply, 'By all means it stands in need. That is the reason why the art of medicine has now been invented, because the body is defective and such defect is unsatisfactory. To provide for this, then, what is advantageous, that is the end for which the art was devised.' Do you think that would be a correct answer, or not?” (341e) Monday, September 16, 13
  16. 16. eros Monday, September 16, 13
  17. 17. Jason: Roochnik compares knowing erōtika with “self- knowledge (239), the search for an erotic quest (242), true knowledge, etc. This reminds me of the ways in which some of the New Romanticists saw writing instructing as a pursuit of a hidden truth or of trying to put to words to that which is mystically beyond words. If we follow Roochnik’s translation of erōtika and Socrates’ claims about techne, is it possible to draw some comparisons between these concepts and the distinctions between the New Romanticists and New Classicists’ definitions of techne? Monday, September 16, 13
  18. 18. “Moral knowledge, human wisdom, for Plato is not a techne, because the human realm is acutely infected by the inflections and contingencies of human eros. “Techne is ordinary knowledge, the kind we typically rely upon, certify, and reward.As such, it simply is not strange enough to treat the erotic complexities of human moral life” (Roochnik 251). Monday, September 16, 13
  19. 19. The Gorgias Monday, September 16, 13
  20. 20. Lindsey: What I found so interesting about the discussion of techne in Gorgias is how it has caused me to rethink about how I think about rhetoric. I’ve often heard phrases such as “the art of persuasion” applied to rhetoric, but I never paused on “the art,” “the skill,” or “the craft” of rhetoric. I’ve never asked myself, what does it mean to consider rhetoric as art and a skill? And that is the exact question I asked myself when in section [449a] Socrates asks of Gorgias, “do you tell us yourself in what art it is you are skilled, and hence, what we ought to call you” and Gorgias replied “Rhetoric, Socrates.” Monday, September 16, 13
  21. 21. What is rhetoric? Monday, September 16, 13
  22. 22. But there is another class of arts which achieve their whole purpose through speech and—to put it roughly—require either no action to aid them, or very little; for example, numeration, calculation, geometry, draught-playing, and many other arts: some of these have the speech in about equal proportion to the action, but most have it as the larger part, or absolutely the whole of their operation and effect is by means of speech. It is one of this class of arts (450d) (450e)that I think you refer to as rhetoric. But, mind you, I do not think it is any one of these that you mean to call rhetoric. Monday, September 16, 13
  23. 23. Rhetoric’s product Monday, September 16, 13
  24. 24. Polus But what do you consider rhetoric to be? [462c] Socrates A thing which you say—in the treatise which I read of late—“made art.” Polus What thing do you mean? Socrates I mean a certain habitude. Polus Then do you take rhetoric to be a habitude? Socrates I do, if you have no other suggestion. Polus Habitude of what? Socrates Of producing a kind of gratification and pleasure. Monday, September 16, 13
  25. 25. It seems to me then, Gorgias, to be a pursuit that is not a matter of art, but showing a shrewd, gallant spirit which has a natural bent for clever dealing with mankind, and I sum up its substance in the name flattery. [463b] This practice, as I view it, has many branches, and one of them is cookery; which appears indeed to be an art but, by my account of it, is not an art but a habitude or knack. I call rhetoric another branch of it, as also personal adornment and sophistry—four branches of it for four kinds of affairs. Monday, September 16, 13
  26. 26. Well, fine. What’s an art? What’s a habitude? 465a-e Monday, September 16, 13
  27. 27. and again: “there were certain industries, some of which extend only to pleasure, procuring that and no more, and ignorant of better and worse; while others know what is good and what bad. And I placed among those that are concerned with pleasure the habitude, not art, of cookery, and among those concerned with good the art of medicine.” (500b) Monday, September 16, 13
  28. 28. (500e) cookery seems to me (501a) not an art but a habitude, unlike medicine, which, I argued, has investigated the nature of the person whom she treats and the cause of her proceedings, and has some account to give of each of these things; so much for medicine: whereas the other, in respect of the pleasure to which her whole ministration is given, goes to work there in an utterly inartistic manner, without having investigated at all either the nature or the cause of pleasure, and altogether irrationally—with no thought, one may say, of differentiation, relying on routine and habitude for merely preserving a memory of what is wont to result; and that is how she is enabled to provide her pleasures. Monday, September 16, 13
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