Plato’s Gorgias

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of Plato’s most striking dialogues, in which he addresses the real nature of power and freedom, and the relationship between pleasure and true self-interest. As he tests these ideas, Plato creates powerful speeches, notably from Callicles who claims that laws of nature trump man-made laws, that might is right, and that rules are made by weak people to constrain the strong in defiance of what is natural and proper. Gorgias is arguably the most personal of all of Plato’s dialogues, with its hints of a simmering fury at the system in Athens that put his mentor Socrates to death, and where rhetoric held too much sway over people.

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  • Angie Hobbs 24 episodes
    Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield
  • Frisbee Sheffield 3 episodes
    University Lecturer in Classics and Fellow of Downing College, University of Cambridge
  • Fiona Leigh No other episodes
    Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at University College London

Reading list

  • Classical Philosophy: History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps
    Peter Adamson Google Books →
  • Routledge Encyclopaedia of Philosophy
    Edward Craig (ed.) Google Books →
  • Socrates and Gorgias
    J. Doyle
  • A History of Greek Philosophy vol. IV, Plato: The Man and his Dialogues Earlier Period
    W. K. C. Guthrie (Cambridge University Press, 2008) Google Books →
  • Plato and the Hero
    A. Hobbs (Cambridge University Press, 2006) Google Books →
  • Plato's Ethics
    Terence Irwin Google Books →
  • Drama and Dialectic in Plato's Gorgias
    C. Kahn
  • Plato's Moral Psychology: Intellectualism, the Divided Soul, and the Desire for Good
    Rachana Kamtekar (Oxford University Press, 2017) Google Books →
  • Self-Knowledge, Elenchus, and Authority in Early Plato
    Fiona Leigh
  • Political Dissent in Democratic Athens: Intellectual Critics of Popular Rule
    J. Ober (Princeton University Press, 1998) Google Books →
  • Gorgias
    Plato (Oxford University Press, 1980) Google Books →
  • Gorgias, Menexenus and Protagoras
    Plato (ed. M. Schofield and trans.T. Griffith) (Cambridge University Press, 2009)
  • Gorgias
    Plato (introduction and commentary by E. R. Dodds) (Oxford University Press, 1990) Google Books →
  • Plato on Pleasure and the Good Life
    Daniel Russell (Oxford University Press, 2005) Google Books →
  • The Birth of Rhetoric: Gorgias, Plato and their Successors
    Robert Wardy (Routledge, 1998) Google Books →
  • Callicles and Socrates: Psychic (dis)harmony in Plato's Gorgias
    R. Woolf

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, Plato's Gorgias is one of his most striking dialogues, addressing the real nature of power and freedom and the relationship between pleasure and true self-interest.