shouldn't a sophist defer to a physician on matters of health, and to an economist when it comes to economic matters, and to a guru when it comes to guruing, etc.? And if so, then when would a person ever "use" (or "seek out") a sophist?As I already posted my planned, daily Olympics post, I will oblige him here:
With apologies, I still find Socrates' argument persuasive in the Gorgias, even if "Gorgias" in that dialog is Plato's invention.
To answer your question, I need to make an important distinction between rhetorica docens and rhetorica utens or between a rhetorician and a rhetor: namely, the difference between the study of rhetoric and the practice of rhetoric. I am someone who professionally studies the art and practice of rhetoric: most of my work falls under rhetorica docens. As a student of rhetoric, I see it operating in many places. As a scholar, teacher, a parent and a citizen, however, I frequently engage in rhetorica utens: I make choices and arguments.
So, in answer to your question, it is not that whether the physician or the rhetor should defer to one another, but that the physician is not not a rhetor (or is always already practicing rhetoric). That is, when Santos and I talk about rhetors and sophists (as practioners) we are not talking about a discrete activity that sometimes we are doing and sometime we are not. So we have rhetoric as a practice and rhetoric as a study of the practice. And with this distinction in mind (rather than Plato's Socrates'), I see the doctor as a rhetor him or herself.
Or in yet other words, this is the trick of Socrates' question: he treats rhetoric as he treats medicine: as two separate fields or disciplines that are somehow in competition. If that is indeed the case then, yes, I would want to the doctor to take precedent. But rhetoric can be treated like psychology or biology in this instance. Psychologists study psychology and biologists study biology, but everyone enacts psychology and biology in their daily lives. In other words, as always, Socrates' question to Gorgias is a loaded one - the distinction he makes having already answered the question ahead of time.
I trust doctors for medical opinions, scientists for scientific opinions, historians for historical opinions, but I would also argue that all of these professions make choices and those choices are value laden, and it is with/through rhetoric that such decisions are implicitly and explicitly made.
And I and my ilk should be used to investigate how such decisions are made.