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The causes of Callicles' recalcitrance in Plato's 'Gorgias'

Grant number: 11/02005-4
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2011
Effective date (End): July 31, 2012
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Literature - Classical Languages
Principal Investigator:Daniel Rossi Nunes Lopes
Grantee:Daniel Rossi Nunes Lopes
Host: David Neil Sedley
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of Cambridge, England  
Associated research grant:09/16877-3 - Greek classical philosophy: Plato, Aristotle and their influence in Antiquity, AP.TEM

Abstract

This study aims ultimately at analyzing the causes of Callicles' recalcitrance in Plato's Gorgias from the evidence suggested by the author in the dialogue. Nevertheless, I will try to show that a complete answer to Callicles phenomenon is just possible if we turn to the Platonic moral psychology developed in Books IV, VIII and IX of the Republic. To this end it will be necessary to argue for the thesis that in the Gorgias there are sufficient arguments that evince the acknowledgement, though incipient yet, of thumos and epithumiai as constitutive elements of the soul in order to set out a conceptual affinity between these two dialogues. Secondly, I will attempt to understand Callicle's recalcitrance from the point of view of the configuration of his soul in order to show that Plato, through this character in particular, represents precisely the stage of transition from a democratic soul to a tyrannical one in accordance with the argumentation of Books VIII and IX of the Republic. Finally, returning to the Gorgias I will argue that the failure of the Socratic elenchos points out the limits of the persuasive efficiency of the philosophical discourse specially when applied to an interlocutor such as Callicles, who is represented by Plato as a potencial tyrant. (AU)