To Tell or To Lie

To Tell or To Lie :

For modern students, a training in rhetoric such as that offered by Gorgias is more preferable, rather than learning how to distinguish truth from falsehood. It is the art of forceful language, emphasizing figures of speech and focusing on devices for swaying and persuading an audience that would be most beneficial for students’ lives today. Despite the fact that it is simply ornamented language to make a good facade, the rhetoric by Gorgias is necessary for the success of students, especially those who would like to sell their ideas, products or beliefs to the people (the larger population).

In the world we live in, there are many ways of getting the things that we want. The way most people would like to believe that their accomplishments were achieved is through hard work and sweat. However, that is not how it works, because most people around the world lie to get things to go their way. A perfect example of a group of people that use the rhetoric are politicians. Politicians will say and do anything to convince the citizens that they are right, and that they will do all they promise to do, if you vote for him or her. They try to convince us all the time, and often succeed, that they will make changes. Just think about the many times we've heard, "If you vote for me, I will lower the taxes."

Gorgias makes a very clear point regarding the power of the rhetoric. The following quote from Gorgias expresses the impact that rhetoric can have on those listening. I mean the ability to convince by means of speech a jury in a court of justice, members of the Council in their Chamber, voters at a meeting of the Assembly and any other gathering of citizens whatever it may be. By the exercise of this ability you will have the doctor and the trainer as your slaves, and your man of business will turn out to be making money not for himself but for another; for you, in fact, who have the ability to speak and to convince the masses.

What Gorgias is saying in the preceding quote is about the amazing power of persuasion. He is saying that if you have the ability to convince, you have the power to sway anyone listening by your ideas. He demonstrates the diverse situations in which the ability to convince can help the persuader, by giving him the power so that the control will be in his or her hands. Convincing is not only a form of speech, it is a form of twisting the truth, elaborating on the truth, in other words lying.

If you ask students today, they will tell you that people cannot do right all the time. Although, Socrates says "...truth can never be refuted" which means that when only truth is spoken, no one will be able to win you over or prove you wrong. Therefore, according to Socrates, training on how to distinguish truth from falsehood would not protect you from rhetoric such as that offered by Gorgias. Even though this is an important point, in modern society survival is based on the power of persuasion. As said by Socrates, "...the orator does not teach juries and other bodies about right and wrong - he merely persuades them.... What he means is that orators do not tell you what is wrong and what is right in the situation, they tell you the facts and then try to persuade you to believe them.

Every day when we turn on the television companies try to convince us that their products are better, by giving us reasons which aren't always the full truth. For example, DiDi Seven says that it will remove stains off of anything. That is not quite true for when you read the cover of the box you will see that it says do not use on colored materials for it is a bleach. They lied to the customers because they said it would remove any stain. In actuality it removes the stain by bleaching and this could actually ruin the article of material you are using it on since it will leave a white mark after removing the stain. Furthermore, anyone working in sales must convince the customer that their product is the product the customer needs, despite the possibility that the customer may not really need that product in particular.

For students in this day and in age, it would be beneficial for them to be trained in rhetoric because not too many people believe in truth anymore. Gorgias is right by saying the rhetoric can distinguish someone who is successful from someone who is not unless that person is successful by hard work and honesty, which doesn't happen often. Knowing the difference between truth and falsehood isn't something that is very hard to learn but being able to convince and persuade people is a talent that students have to be trained in.

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