Review of the main sophistical teachings, Protagor...

Overview of the main sophistic doctrines

So far we have been talking about sophistry as a single movement, considering it from the point of view of those general provisions that were shared by all the Sophists. Such an approach is fully justified, but it must be borne in mind that within this single movement there was a certain differentiation. Now it's time to get to know more about the key figures of the sophistic movement.

We know the names of the order of twenty-six Sophists, whose life and activities were for the period from 460 to 380 years. BC. This list should be expanded to include the authors of two more works: "Double Speech and the so-called "Anonymous Iamblichus", however, unfortunately, their names have not been established, and these texts have to be recognized as anonymous.

Protagor Abdersky.

Protagoras (490-421 BC) was one of the most influential Sophists. According to Plato, it was Protagoras who was the first to call himself a sophist and began to charge for his lectures, at least in the Protagoras dialogue.

Protagoras was born in the city of Abdera in Thrace, on the northern coast of the Aegean Sea. He traveled a lot. I visited Athens several times, where I stayed for a while, worked with Pericles and assisted him in drafting legislation for the colony that Pericles was going to set up in Furia, in the south of Italy, or in Greater Greece. In addition, Protagoras communicated with Euripides. According to legend, he died, drowned in the sea, when he was compelled to leave Athens, being accused of wickedness. The works of Protagoras were collected and dedicated to the fire.

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Only minor fragments of Protagoras texts have reached us. The main source for the reconstruction of his position for us is Plato. Diogenes of Laertius knew the following works of Protagoras: "Science of Dispute", "About Knowledge", "About the State", "About Virtues", "About the Initial Order of Things", "Antinomies."

As evidenced by the same Diogenes, Protagoras was a listener of Democritus. Probably, it was on the basis of the teachings of Democritus that Protagoras formulated his thesis that "man is a measure of things." He was the first to say that about any thing you can make contradictory judgments, which will prove to be true. A similar position is shared by the unknown author of the "Double speeches".

The most famous dictum of Protagoras probably comes from his composition "Truth, or Intolerant Speech". and it reads like this: "A person is a measure ( metron ) of all things - the existence of existing and non-existent non-existent . On the basis of this thesis, an understanding was formed that truth is relative, and there arose the conviction that the Sophists, and Protagoras in particular, were relativists.

I must say that such an evaluation of sophistry needs to be revised. We can never understand the pathos of the doctrine of the Sophists, if we consider them in isolation from the philosophical context to which they belonged. Meanwhile, one must bear in mind that the position of Protagoras is based on two bases. First, the truth ( aletheia ) for him is self-evident, and second: the cognitive abilities of a person are limited. This position is expressed by the philosopher in another, fortunately, preserved thesis: "I can not know about the gods whether they exist, whether there are not, because too much impedes such knowledge, - and the question is dark, and the human life is short" . As a result, the truth reveals itself to the extent that a person is able to open it and express it in the logos. The person in the logos measures the existent, because it fixes it as being, non-being is ineffable, which refers us to the philosophy of Parmenides and Heraclitus.

A remarkable treatment of Protagoras's thesis about the "man-measure" Aristotle says, saying that Protagoras considers "knowledge and sensory perception a measure of things (...) although they are rather measured than measured" and "with us it turns out as if someone else is measuring us, and we learn our growth by applying so many times to us a measure of length."

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