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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 ?
(28) This division suggests, I believe, that those who lack such a suspicion and inner fear--think of Plato's Euthydemus or Hippias--might be sophists only to a lesser degree or are named thus by accident.
Lucian's intention here is to frame the remainder of the dialogue around this notion of hybridity, as the mixture of elite and non-elite cultures and genres allows to solidify the critique of the philosopher sophists. Our hybrid narrator, himself situated between the low and the high cultures of the Symposium (Symp.
Advocating Parmenides as a text concerned with ethical considerations, imagining the utopian ideal of republic as a casual hypothesis (as Plato himself said he was day dreaming) (18), proposing erotic divinity and ideal of philosopher ruler as the potential basis of democracy, questioning the legitimacy of Socrates and Plato's claim to truth and dismissing sophists from the history of knowledge (to name few conspiracies highlighted by the author), does not destroy the text.
Like the Greek Sophists, Hu was more concerned with the creative function of doubt.
The Visitor also uses the same joints to account for more than one division, so that the number of joints used in the Sophist and Statesman is smaller than the total number of divisions made.
The sophists' rejoinder--as explained by Jaeger when explicating Isocrates--is that preaching beneficial forms of thought is all very well.
The humanism, the relativism, the emphasis on knowledge and experience, on the ability to convince, on the real needs of the moment are benchmarks that reveal why the sophists had such a great success especially on young people.
Rachana Kamtekar focuses upon education and art, and argues that Socrates' main difference with the sophists on these topics is one of human psychology.
As its title suggests, Against the sophists is less a defense of Isocrates' views than an attack on rhetorical and philosophical competitors.
The debate is about the fundamental purpose of education: for the Sophists, the goal is power--economic, political, and social.
The sophists of the Eisteddfod court and council is pouring irrational scorn on Alun Pugh, a dedicated, hard working AM, and on the Labour administration in Cardiff, cannot hide from the fact that failure to attract a wider audience, even of Welsh speakers, is theirs, and theirs alone.The wider implication of such dishonest, politically motivated attacks, is they alienate even more
Given argues in Paul's True Rhetoric: Ambiguity, Cunning, and Deception in Greece and Rome (Trinity Press International, $26.95) that Paul, much like the Sophists, uses deception, irony, ambiguity, and other rhetorical devices in his argumentation, not surprising because of "Paul's sincere conviction that he knew the Truth and had a divine mandate to promote it in an apocalyptic world filled with deception" (p.