At the origins of an analogy: discourse as pharmakon

  • Mauro Serra
Keywords: Logos, pharmakon, rhetoric, medicine, ambivalence


Starting from the well known analogy between logoi and pharmaka that concludes the final section of Gorgias’ Encomium of Helen, I try to reconstruct the theoretical and cultural context in which it is inserted. Against this background it is possible to highlight the novelty of the gorgianic use of the analogy. The most substantial novelty introduced by Gorgias concerns the ambivalent nature of discourse and its effects. Just like pharmaka human discourses can be both a cure and a poison and we, as citizens, have no possibilities of a preventive “immunization” against their effects. Acquiring a technē logōn thus becomes the most important resource available to us to exercise citizenship in a responsible way.


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How to Cite
Serra, M. (2021) “At the origins of an analogy: discourse as pharmakon ”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, 15(1). doi: 10.4396/20210602.