James V. Schall’s “A Catholic Reading of the Gorgias of Plato” appears in Telos 157 (Winter 2011). Read the full version online at the TELOS Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue here.
The Gorgias of Plato is of particular interest to political philosophy. Not only is there a detailed discussion of punishment and oratory, but also of practical political ways of action and their foundation. This dialogue is of particular worth for the Roman Catholic notion of the relation of reason and revelation. Political life leaves us with the notion that not all crimes are punished, nor are all good deeds rewarded. This fact leaves the Platonic concern of whether the world is created in injustice. The myth at the end of the Gorgias suggests that politicians are the ones most likely to cause extensive damage and evil in the world. It also argues that unless such deeds are suffered for, thus righting the principle, they will be punished. This consideration naturally leads to the issue of resurrection, an issue about which even Marxist-oriented philosophers like Adorno and Horkheimer saw the logic.