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Volume 12, 2014

La Causalité Platonicienne, Stoïcienne, Cynique et Médiévale

Laura Candiotto
Pages 191-212

Elenchos public et honte dans la troisieme partie du Gorgias de Platon

This article proposes an analysis of the use of emotions, in particular the shame, characterizing the elenctic method performed by Socrates in the dialogue with Callicles in the third part of Plato’s Gorgias. The elenchus aims at improving the interlocutor through a process of purification that is capable of changing his whole existence. However, Plato’s dialogues only rarely give testimony of a successful transformation occurring in the interlocutor. This is due to the interlocutor’s attitude towards shame : the feeling of shame can be accepted as a mean for self-transformation or hidden to protect a social status. The article will explore the way in which this fundamental difference is delineated within the dialogue by providing appropriate textual examples. Arguably, by outlining the distinction between the types of shame, it is possible to notice how the purification of the interlocutor implies a turning point for the public. This is what I call „outreach elenchus”, a specific hermeneutic figure that allows to understand a form of purification of the audience and the spectators witnessing the debate. This type of elenchus steps in at the very moment in which the Socratic interlocutor attempts to protect his social image, concealing his shame. The audience, thanks to Plato’s literary strategy, realizes the failures of the interlocutor even as he refuses to accept them. As a result, his social image becomes tarnished.

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