#16 Gorgias: Plato Asks ‘Is It Better To Be Honest or Persuasive?’ STS1Book | WeAreSTS

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You’ve heard of Plato. He’s one of those philosophers from Ancient Greece. Think in the time range 400-350 BCE and you’re in the right range. Plato wrote core works in the Western canon: The Republic, The Timaeus, and so much more. One of his lesser known texts is The Gorgias. That’s this year’s STS1Book. It’s a work massively relevant today. At its heart is a key question for communication: should we prefer people who are truth tellers in society, or should we prefer sweet-talking rhetoricians? This is a question that cuts right to the heart of so much in politics, society, and the way we talk with each other.

If you’re a regular listener to the podcast, you’ll know about the STS1Book programme. Each year, we chose one book for all students and staff to read and talk about. It’s something that helps glue us together as a community. Last year, we had Gemma Milne’s book, Smoke and Mirrors, about hype in the the tech and innovation industries. This year, it’s Plato’s Gorgias.

Here in STS we have an expert on Plato and his philosophy, Professor Andy Gregory. I put in a call to Andy to ask him about this book. I wanted to know what I should be looking out for, and what he thought was important. Who are the main characters? What are the main themes? For me, Gorgias reads like a play about some of the political characters we all know and watch today. The words in this book sound as though they’re coming from today’s headlines. Amazing and eye-opening.

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Professor Gregory also is the organiser of the long-running London Ancient Science Conference.




Music credits

Intro and Exit Music

  • “Rollin At 5,” by Kevin MacLeod
    License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Interval Music

  • “Busted Flat Blues,” by anonymous
    public domain

Podcast information

“WeAreSTS” is a production of the Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at University College London (UCL). To find out more, and to leave feedback about the show, visit us online:


STS Students and staff also can find on the website information about how to get involved with our programme.

“WeAreSTS” producer is Professor Joe Cain.

Twitter: @stsucl #WeAreSTS