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Related to Sophists: Protagoras


(sŏf`ĭsts), originally, itinerant teachers in Greece (5th cent. B.C.) who provided education through lectures and in return received fees from their audiences. The term was given as a mark of respect. ProtagorasProtagoras
, c.490–c.421 B.C., Greek philosopher of Abdera, one of the more distinguished Sophists. He taught for a time in Athens, where he was a friend of Pericles and knew Socrates, but was forced to flee because of his professed agnosticism.
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 was perhaps the first to style himself a Sophist and to receive payment for his instruction. He and GorgiasGorgias
, c.485–c.380 B.C., Greek Sophist. From his native city, Leontini, Sicily, he was sent as an ambassador to Athens, where he settled to teach and practice rhetoric.
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 were respected thinkers, but others after them, notably Thrasymachus and Hippias, and many lesser figures, turned education into the development of skills useful to political careers. Hence, they cared little for the disciplined search for truth (dialectics), teaching in its place the art of persuasion (rhetoric). Although not properly speaking a philosophical school, they appear to have shared a basic skepticismskepticism
[Gr.,=to reflect], philosophic position holding that the possibility of knowledge is limited either because of the limitations of the mind or because of the inaccessibility of its object. It is more loosely used to denote any questioning attitude.
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 regarding the possibility of knowing truth. The more notorious of them boasted of their ability to "make the worst appear the better reason." They were criticized by Plato and Aristotle for their emphasis on rhetoric rather than on pure knowledge and for their acceptance of money, a judgment that has passed into history and has given the term sophist its present meaning. George Grote's History of Greece (1846) was one of the first defenses of the Sophists. Modern studies have stressed the contributions of Protagoras and Gorgias to a theory of knowledge and to ethics. They are frequently cited today as forerunners of pragmatism.


See W. K. C. Guthrie, Sophists (1971); H. Diels, ed., The Older Sophists (1972).

References in periodicals archive ?
Rather than inquire what sophists claim to teach (as Socrates does in the Protagoras) or whether sophistry is an art (techne) as Socrates explicitly asks in the Gorgias, the Stranger observes that he and Theaetetus may have only the name ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) of the sophist in common.
In Chapters 3, 4, and 5, Gonzalez examines the way in which dialectic employs words, arguments, and images in its pursuit of that which necessarily transcends them and contrasts this with their misuse by the sophists and poets.
Mary's College of Maryland) considers the current state of university education and endowment versus tuition models through a historical lens that goes back to ancient Greece, one that connects current concerns over the commercialization of academia with disputes begun in ancient Greece between Plato and Aristotle and the sophists.
3) The gathering of the sophists is closed off from the sun, from what Socrates thinks of as true enlightenment.
This collection of readings from roughly 600 BCE to 600 CE includes passages from the early Greeks, starts with Milesian monists (Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes) and proceeds briskly through iconoclasts, eleatic monists, pluralists and sophists.
Descartes's method of reasoning is not philosophical, but sophistical, with its historical and methodological roots in the theological, rhetorical, and poetic traditions of the ancient sophists and poets.
not only provides historical and social contexts for the presocratics, the Sophists, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle but makes sure students encountering them for the first time understand the life of ideas and the similarities that exist in that life then and now.
Having in the first volume traced the journey from the Sophists to Machiavelli, Dyson (government and international affairs, U.
Nightingale weaves together a number of themes in her exposition around Isocrates; he, along with sophists, merchants, politicians, does not have the detached view of the true Platonic philosopher, but has, rather, the servile ("banausic") interests of a worker (p.
Among specific topics are Socrates among the sophists, Socratic love, skepticism, his private life in early modern France, and his legacy in education.
Either we must admit that the world is more than the natural world and that it comprises not only physical and psychological reality, but normative reality as well, or, like the Sophists, we must abandon reason for persuasion" (p.
If in the Statesman sophists are indeed defined as "those who imitate the one who knows, but without the science of the mean, by which the latter knows what is good" (p.