I’ve been noticing a recurring theme in the texts we’ve read so far. Generally speaking, the identity of the characters we read about has been defined by their profession.
In Genesis, great significance lies in the names of the main characters, and names are even changed from what they were initially to reflect changes in the purpose of the characters – Abram changed to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah, to refelct changes in their lives.
It seems to me that Plato really drives this point home, when he attempts to define Gorgias as an Orator. Sure, there are many names thrown around to personalize each character, but their essence, or identity, is in what they do. Plato obviously speaks the most about oratory, but speaks also of painting, of baking, and of gaming, even. They say that Socrates is a philosopher, and, that title seems to define him, or at least it defines him to Plato and Callicles. Socrates has issues with oratory, and by extension, attempts to trap Gorgias in his words, Gorgias, being an orator.
I’m not entirely sure how (if) this observation ties into the theme of remake/remodel, but it seems to me to be a recurring one, potentially worth noting.
I’ve named this post with another topic, however. Maturity. I’ll begin by revisiting Kant. Kant has a few things to say about maturity, which I find to be interesting:
“…nature has fixed at the age of about sixteen or seventeen years – an age in which the youth in the crude natural condition literally becomes a man…” (Kant, 170)
“For the natural human being is in a certain age already a man, when the civil human being (who, after all, has not ceased to be a natural human being) is only a youth, indeed, is probably a child; for so one can call him who on account of his years (in the civil state) cannot even preserve himself, much less his kind…” (Kant, 170)
This point on maturity suggests that there are two types of maturity that can exist – a natural maturity and a civil maturity, the natural maturity corresponding with sexual maturity. This is all interesting to me, and caused me to think of how Canadians prosecute for crimes – for federal law, the age of majority is 18. This means that once we turn 18, punishments are more severe and we can be held more accountable for our actions. The government has decided that Canadians are civilly mature at age 18, although Kant seems to suggest that civil maturity should take a while longer…
The reason I bring up this point (besides interest) is that maturity is also brought up in Plato, our more recent read. Around page 24, Socrates demotes Polus as youthful and impulsive, which I think, is more Socrates’ opinion of Oratory than his opinion of Polus himself, although he does indeed consider Polus to be immature.
This, of course, ties back to identity, if Socrates is indeed making fun of oratory: The fact that Polus and Gorgias are orators by craft, their identity as such, paints their characters in a bad light for someone (like Socrates) who disapproves of oratory in principle.
Than there is the question: Does Socrates dislike Polus because of his craft, or are both the dislike of Polus and the dislike of Oratory mutually exclusive?
It is also interesting to note that still today, a large part of our identity is determined by our profession. When introducing myself to people at UBC, I hear questions like “What faculty are you in?” and “What do you want to do with your life?” and “What classes do you have?” Are these not all related to profession rather than character? Or is character, now, as before, dominantly determined by profession rather than other qualities such as thoughts, impressions, behavior, or morals?