Basically the text gives Isocrates a little bit of a bad break.
He's more important than is implied here.
For one thing he wrote some of the most effective, and most readable early prose that we have.
His model of education basically ended up lasting 2200 years. And he is also considered one of the fathers of the liberal arts.
Isocrates system of education was based on approaching the entire person and making a person capable of decision-making through what we would nowadays call a liberal education. The idea was to help create a well-rounded person with wide-ranging capability. In a world where certainty was not particularly easy to find. Now he also consistently connected individual education to the health of the Greek culture as a whole -- he said that education should not consist of merely memorizing facts or memorizing speeches, but understanding new situations. In that way he is the forerunner of an awful lot of what we nowadays call critical thinking pedagogy.
The idea was that the students would develop their judgment and that this developed judgment could be applied to any situation.
He did not speak in public. He worked as a logographer as the book says, and it is thought that he did not speak in public partly because he simply had stage fright, and he also had a physically weak voice. Now this is a little bit controversial there are some scholars that think that Isocrates made a conscious choice not to speak and to write instead. For the reasons that people write rather than speak nowadays -- you can reach a permanent audience, writing was the only technology available for making a text permanent at the time.
Writing had only really developed in Greece for about 200 to 300 years before Isocrates worked. There had been a much earlier writing system around 1000 BC and by that had been lost in what is called the Greek dark age.
The technology of writing leads to a way of life that is more solitary than orally based living is. Now by staying in one place by being in Athens rather than traveling around Greece like the other sophists Isocrates saved an enormous amount of time and he was able to produce a great deal more writing than the other sophists were. The permanence of writing as opposed to the ephemeral nature of spoken discourse led Isocrates writing to be influential for many many centuries.
The remarkable degree of litigiousness that occurred in the Athenian culture.
Isocrates managed to pull off a balancing act – he asked for very large fees at his school, but he also managed to maintain a certain distance from the other sophists, which allowed him to maintain his reputation. As we'll see later on when we read the Phaedrus Plato praises Isocrates at the end of the Phaedrus. This may be because he and Isocrates were both students of Socrates himself. Plato makes it clear he does not agree completely with Isocrates on all of his ideas but still respects him. That possibly might be a PR move on Plato's part simply because Isocrates was much more respected and much more influential than Plato himself was at the time.
Unlike Plato Isocrates did not make any pretense of understanding the ultimate realities around us. He was much more concerned with practical matters of how we should make decisions.
Gorgias also emphasized Greek unity and emphasized prose style. Gorgias is basic innovation was to apply poetic techniques and devices to prose.
He wrote a book called the Art of rhetoric which we have lost. But we can infer some of his general principles from his other work. His idea about rhetoric was first of all to appeal to many different aspects of the listener or reader and also he emphasized values in rhetoric. These two things were a departure from the earlier sophists Gorgias as we know from the text just intended basically to dazzle people and affect them emotionally mostly with an emotion of awe. Sort of rockstar thing. Isocrates emphasize the ethical conduct of the rhetrr which later became a very prominent part of both Cicero and Quintilian's views of rhetoric. He emphasized maintaining a high standard of conduct and also very importantly maintaining the appearance of good conduct and maintaining a generalized good reputation so that you would be able to appeal to a large number of different people. He also emphasized the idea that you must appeal to a broad range of the audience's interests as many as possible this in some ways leads up to Kenneth Burke's theory of rhetoric as essentially being identification. Isocrates also wrote a encomium to Helen, by the way. His justification of Helen was that basically, because of Helen being kidnapped the Greeks used the fight to go fight the Trojan war -- Greek unity is the most important thing. And of that war that was fought was the first war in which Greek basically had a victory over Asia over the Persians who were the great enemy of the time.