The Sophists

The Mind Map

Intro:

Life

Major Figures

Content:

Perceptible world

1 Man is the measure 

1.1 Perceptible

1.2 Justice

1.3 Moral virtues 

1.4 Truth

1.4a There is no falsehood

1.4b Rhetoric

1.4c Persuasion

1.4d Contradiction

2 Paid education

2.1 Cost

2.2 Range

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Books used:

W. K. C. Guthrie - A History of Greek Philosophy Volume II: The Presocratics Tradition from Parmenides to Democritus

W. K. C. Guthrie - The Sophists 

Plato - Theatetus

Plato - Sophists

Life

 

A sophist was a teacher in ancient Greece in the fifth and fourth centuries BC. Sophists specialized in one or more subject areas, such as philosophyrhetoric, music, athletics, and mathematics. They taught arete – "virtue" or "excellence" – predominantly to young statesmen and nobility. (I didn't had a structure since it was in the very beggining of my study 7 years ago. Adding Wikipedia content into further reading is done)

Major Figures

Protagoras

Protagoras was one of the best known and most successful sophists of his era; however, some later philosophers, such as Sextus Empiricus[6] treat him as a founder of a philosophy rather than as a sophist. Protagoras taught his students the necessary skills and knowledge for a successful life, particularly in politics. He trained his pupils to argue from both points of view because he believed that truth could not be limited to just one side of the argument. Protagoras wrote about a variety of subjects and advanced several philosophical ideas, particularly in epistemology. Some fragments of his works have survived. He is the author of the famous saying, "Man is the measure of all things", which is the opening sentence of a work called Truth. (I didn't had a structure since it was in the very beggining of my study 7 years ago. Adding Wikipedia content into further reading is done)

Gorgias

Gorgias was a well-known sophist whose writings showcased his ability to make counter-intuitive and unpopular positions appear stronger. Gorgias authored a lost work known as On the Non-Existent, which argues that nothing exists. In it, he attempts to persuade his readers that thought and existence are different. He also wrote Encomium of Helen in which he presents all of the possible reasons for which Helen could be blamed for causing the Trojan War and refutes each one of them. (I didn't had a structure since it was in the very beggining of my study 7 years ago. Adding Wikipedia content into further reading is done)

Content

Perceptible world 

1)Nothing exists 

2)Even if it does it is incomprehensible 

3)It is not communicable 

(The Sophists by W. K. C. Guthrie p. 193 “Gorgias”)

1 Man is the measure 

“Everything depends” 

Man is the measure of all things, of the things that are that they are, and of the things that are not that they are not. (The Sophists by W. K. C. Guthrie p.171 “Protagoras)

Everything depends “Art of measurement” (The Sophists by W. K. C. Guthrie p. 260 “Gorgias”)

Man is the measure (Plato - Theatetus 152a)

“To myself I am the judge of what is and what is not” Protagoras (Plato by W. K. C. Guthrie p. 296)

We are entering a world in which not only sweet and bitter, hot and cold exist merely in belief or by convention, but also justice and injustice, right and wrong (The Sophists by W. K. C. Guthrie p.59)

1.1 Perceptible

Protagoras also claimed that “nothing will be either cold or hot or sweet or perceptible at all unless somebody is perceiving it. (Metaphysics IX. 3, 1047a4-7)

1.2 Justice

Protagoras in Plato’s Theatetus argues that what is just for a given city is simply what is enjoined by law or convention, and denies that anything is just in itself, independently of people’s holding it to be so. (Plato Theatetus)

1.3 Moral virtues 

Aidos Modesty and Dike Justice

Protagoras myth: Fearing that the whole world would be wiped out Zeus give two moral virtues to man Aidos (Complicated quality, it involves a sense of shame, modesty and respect for others conscience) and Dike (The sense of right or justice) (The Sophists by W. K. C. Guthrie p.66)

1.4 Truth

Truth and knowledge are illusions. (The Sophists by W. K. C. Guthrie p. 180)

1.4a There is no falsehood

In three Platonic passages, Euthydemus 284a–c, Theaetetus 188d–189a and Sophist 236e–237e. According to this argument falsehood is impossible, since to say what is false is to say what is not (legein to mē on), whereas anyone who speaks has to say something that is (on ti); hence saying what is not is saying what is not anything, i.e., not saying anything. Hence, since of contradictory statements one must be false, it is not possible to contradict (ouk estin antilegein (Euthydemus 286b)

⁷ Parmenides’ claim (DK 28B2) that ‘You could not know what is not … nor could you say it

1.4b Rhetoric

The whole teaching of the Sophists is summed up in the art of rhetoric (The Sophists by W. K. C. Guthrie p.20)

1.4c Persuasion

Persuasion (The Sophists by W. K. C. Guthrie p.51)

1.4d Contradiction

(Imitation of the wise): In private and in short speeches compels the person who is conversing with him to contradict himself. (Plato Sophists p.162)

2 Paid education

The problem is in what the Sophists sell arête (moral virtue) (The Sophists by W. K. C. Guthrie p.38)

Sophists in the new role of paid education (The Sophists by W. K. C. Guthrie p.25)

2.1 Cost

Leave an x amount of offering at the temple

But who is to fix the worth of the service: he who makes the sacrifice or he who has got the advantage? At any rate the other seems to leave it to him. This is what they say Protagoras used to do: whenever he taught anything whatsoever, he bade the learner access the value of the knowledge, and accepted the amount so fixed. But in such matters some men approve of saying “Let a man have his fixed reward”. (Aristotle - The Nicomachean ethics IX 1164a-22)

2.2 Range

Management of one’s own affairs, household make men into good citizen

It is not men’s possessions but their desire and ambitions that must be equalized, and this needs suitable education (The Sophists by W. K. C. Guthrie p.152)

In the Protagoras he claims to teach ‘the proper management of one’s own affairs, how best to run one’s household, and the management of public affairs, how to make the most effective contribution to the affairs of the city by word and action’, and he accepts Socrates’ account of that subject as ‘the art of running a city’, which he promises will ‘make men into good citizens’ (319a).

 
 
 
 
 

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