Discovering Nothing to Create Anything: Gorgias’s On the Nonexistant and the WorldBuilding Power of Logos


  • Kat Kolby


This paper begins by tracing instances throughout history wherein the fields
of rhetoric and philosophy have quarreled, focusing primarily on how they
define their own studies as well as language and its connection to, or lack of,
an objective reality. With a close examination of the theoretical framework
and definition for logos as presented in Gorgias’s On the Nonexistent or On
Nature, it is possible to flesh out a better understanding of the connections
between any medium of communication and the process of creating and
conveying both perceptual and virtual realities. Gorgias, in the context of this
paper, refers to the sophist and rhetorician, 483 to 375 BC, and is not to be
confused with the character in Plato’s Gorgias meant to discount sophistry. In
my argument, backed by game studies scholars such as Ian Bogost and James
J. Brown Jr., the rhetorical impact of video games as it is relayed through the
authorship of code can serve as an alternative medium that parallels rhetorical
impact of speech through the authorship of logos. Viewing video games as
examples of virtually constructed worlds within an outer world can also help
demonstrate how Platonic suggestions that logos has any direct connection to
objective substantiality are inherently flawed. This dismissal of the primacy of
logos as truth-revealing suggests that rhetoric is an inherent part of all forms
of composition and, thus, communication necessarily precedes the ability to
convey any philosophical ideas. Looking through the interpretive act for both
the communicator and the audience, logos can be seen as its own kind of
substance with a power far superior to mere persuasion or influence.