Sophistes et Philosophes : deux types de Paroles, deux types de possession

Abstract : In the Gorgias (481d-482a), Socrates appears to be joking when he says that he loves Alcibiades and that he always repeats what Philosophia tells him to say. Philosophia is presented as his other great love. So that, this philosophos distinguishes himself from Callicles whilst also comparing himself to him, because it so happens that Calliclès also loves two beings at the same time: the young Demos and Demos the people. However the people, says Socrates, contrary to the Philosophia, impose an unsteady, fickle dictatorship, constantly upsetting the speaker's personal opinions. In spite of the light and rather provocative tone, there are good reasons to think that the subject might be of fundamental importance. Because an alternative stands out, that is presented again more deeply in the VIth book of Republic between the theou moira on one hand and the mega zôion on the other: the Big Animal is in fact the Demos, supposed to control completely the thought of " these we call sophists " (493a6). As a consequence, thanks to Republic and other dialogues speaking about the theia moira, we are able to understand that this supposed dependence of Socrates on Philosophia is no joking matter nor even a pure metaphor. There are all the signs of a personification, a divinization, or even a possession: if it happens that the platonic Socrates is different from an ignorant man and that he comes to express a positive conception, a truth about happiness and justice, the man adds straight away, it is not him that is speaking but Philosophia, a superior character that speaks through him. The idea is astonishing: for both philosophers and sophists neither has control over the content of his own thoughts. Socrates, the man who appears to be the father of philosophy, therefore by no means pretends, if one believes Plato, to master the opinions that he utters (if ever it occurs to him to express some of them), no more than the sophists, presented on the other hand as " mercenaries" of the Big Animal. The distinction between sophists and philosophers would finally amount to a difference between Words that overwhelm the individuals from all sides and that impose themselves on them. The sophists, actually, would simply justify the doxa, the common vision, only even if they believe they are able to manipulate it. If however some individuals succeed in escaping this crushing pressure, it is not at all due to a purely rational research emanating from oneself, but firstly because, thanks to the divine part (theia moira), these men named philosophoi were driven toward the truth. Science (epistèmè) therefore can only develop on the basis of a rare disposition involving orthè doxa. The philosophoi are first theioi andres (Sophist, 216b9-c2). Their task is to try to give an account (didonai logon) of the true opinions that are imposed on them by theia moira.
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Jean-Luc Perillie. Sophistes et Philosophes : deux types de Paroles, deux types de possession. La Vérité:Platon et les Sophistes, Section méditerranéenne de l'International Plato' society, Michele Corradi et Alonso Tordesillas, Oct 2015, Aix-en-Provence, France. ⟨hal-01250333v2⟩

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