To Tell or to Lie


Maral Frendjian


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. (Gorgias, p.28 sec. 453)

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."
(Socrates, p.60 sec.473), 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;…"(Socrates, p.32 sec.455).
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. Everyday 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