1 Introduction: Defining Statesmanship 1 We have a great many politicians in the country, perhaps as many as the country requires. I should not wish to ask for a larger supply of these ; but there is a wide difference between the politician and the statesman. A politician, for example, is a man
In the Gorgias, Plato explores the relationship between statesmanship and rhetoric. Socrates argues that the true statesman uses the true rhetoric in the attempt to make others better through speeches. In the conversation with Gorgias, Socrates forces him to see the potentially disastrous consequences of teaching a kind of rhetoric that is morally neutral, which suggests the need for an uncompromisingly true or just rhetoric. In the exchange with Polus, Socrates attempts the just reformation of rhetoric into true rhetoric to counter the unjust rhetoric of Polus. In his discussion with Callicles, Socrates uses the true rhetoric to try to moderate him, but his failure reveals the limits of true statesmanship. By examining these three exchanges, I shed light on a unique and neglected paradox of the Gorgias. As clearly as the dialogue articulates what constitutes a true statesman, it challenges his own practice. Socrates, as the true statesman possessing the true rhetoric, is powerless to achieve his goals. However, a potential way to expand the success of the true statesman can be seen by going back to the discourse between Socrates and Gorgias and forging an alliance between them.