At the beginning of this selection of Gorgias, Socrates and Gorgias are arguing over what rhetoric truly is and how to classify it. Socrates classifies rhetoric as a kind of knack – that is, an activity which produces pleasure and gratification – while not necessarily requiring a specific skill. Within Socrates definition/classification of rhetoric, there are points which I agree with and others which I do not.
I agree with Socrates that rhetoric is – in overview – an activity. Classifying it as anything would be insufficient for, just as Socrates argues, rhetoric is an activity which provides pleasure and gratification to its audience. In today’s society the word “gratification” might not be directly associated with rhetoric in our minds, yet we do associate rhetoric with happiness. We think of the clever sayings and quick comebacks and connect these thoughts to the times we were laughing at jokes or eachother.
However, despite agreeing that rhetoric is a type of activity, I disagree that rhetoric requires no skill. Socrates anyone with half a brain could come to be skilled with thetoric. Yet, I find this misleading. Rhetoric requires complicated thought-processses, quick wit, and a courage to say exactly what’s on your mind when it’s time to use the rhetoric. These three qualifications branch out way beyond the basic premise of just having a brain. The skills suggest that one must practic rhetoric and focus in their abilities in order to enhance their rhetoric. While some might have different opinions on the skills needed to be successful at rhetoric, I could argue that all skills listed are the ones which aren’t just naturally inherited, but those which instead must be honed over time.