I recently started getting into philosophy.
I always thought it was boring and not really applicable, but as with most things, you just need to find a resource that teaches it in a way that resonates with you.
Well, little did I know that the first copywriters were actually philosophers.
They were the masters of rhetoric, or the art of persuasion. They were speakers for the most part and some of them were also getting paid for their “performances”.
One of them caught my attention.
Because he used the power of language to try and recruit people, to learn the power of language from him.
It was one of the first versions of the copywriter teaching other people to be copywriters.
Gorgias, a pre-socratic philosopher, and sophist. And he was born in 483 BC.
That’s 2500 years ago.
Let that sink in for a minute.
That long ago we already had people doing what we do now.
It tells a lot about how little humans have changed.
A good piece that says a lot about Gorgias’ view of rhetoric is where he equates language to drugs:
“Just as different drugs draw forth different humors from the body, some putting a stop to disease, others to life. So too, with words, some cause pain, others joy, some strike fear. Some stir the audience to boldness, some benumb and bewitch the soul with evil persuasion.”
If this is not what copywriting does, I don’t know what is.
Speaks volumes to the power of words when used correctly and for the right reasons. Notice how deep he thinks words affect people.
He talks about causing physical or mental pain and either inspiring, captivating or numbing people.
It’s the kind of stuff that makes me love my job even more.
A good reminder that if this has been working for more than 2000 years, chances are your situation or market or business or product won’t make that much of a difference.
Need help turning words into (good) drugs?