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Sophistical PracticeToward a Consistent Relativism$
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Barbara Cassin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823256389

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823256389.001.0001

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Two Modes of Invention

(p.87) Five Topos/Kairos
Sophistical Practice

Barbara Cassin

Fordham University Press

This chapter argues, based on a close reading of Plato's Gorgias, that ontology invented rhetoric in order to domesticate time in discourse. Through rhetoric time is modeled as and reduced to space: a discourse is primarily an organism that unfolds, and it is articulated. From a “narrow” perspective, it is woven out of “tropes” and “metaphors.” In short, it is a question of shifting from the thread to-be-followed and the capture of the kairos, the point of time, to the topos and the topoi, the places of crafted speech. Thus, if there is a sophistic particularity of rhetoric, a strictly sophistical inventio of rhetoric and within rhetoric, it would entail identifying something like a “rhetoric of time,” which would be to the rhetorics of space as sophistic discursivity is to Platonico-Aristotelian ontology.

Keywords:   Plato, Gorgias, rhetoric, time, discourse, sophistic discursivity, ontology

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