Read e-book online A History of Greek Philosophy, Volume 3, Part 1: The PDF

By W. K. C. Guthrie

ISBN-10: 0521096669

ISBN-13: 9780521096669

The 3rd quantity of Professor Guthrie's nice background of Greek idea, entitled The Fifth-Century Enlightenment, offers in elements with the Sophists and Socrates, the main figures within the dramatic and primary shift of philosophical curiosity from the actual universe to guy. every one of those components is now to be had as a paperback with the textual content, bibliography and indexes amended the place invaluable in order that each one half is self-contained. The Sophists assesses the contribution of people like Protagoras, Gorgias and Hippias to the intense highbrow and ethical fermant in fifth-century Athens. They wondered the bases of morality, faith and arranged society itself and the character of data and language; they initiated a complete sequence of significant and carrying on with debates, and so they provoked Socrates and Plato to a big restatement and defence of conventional values.

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In the eyes of Callicles it condemned them, whereas Critias, through the mouth of Sisyphus in his play o f that name, represented the invention of law as an important step on the road from men's originally 'disorderly and brutish' life to civilization. A n unequivocal statement of the contractual theory of law is ascribed by Aristotle to Lycophron, a pupil of Gorgias, and in its historical form, as a theory of the origin of law, it is clearly stated by Glaucon in the Republic as a current view which he would like to see refuted.

Socrates in the Meno (85 b), having b y means of diagrams got Meno's slave to recognize the diagonal of a square, tells him ' the name the sophistai give it is " d i a g o n a l " ' , and Xenophon (Mem. 1 . 1 . 1 1 , perhaps with the Pythagoreans chiefly in mind) speaks o f ' what is called the kosmos by the sophistai'. In the same vein Socrates says of the wise Diotima, with a touch of humour, that she answered his question ' like a real sophistes'. Here the translation of Michael Joyce, though lengthy, strikes the right note: ' with an air of authority that was almost pro­ fessorial'.

238 ff. b e l o w . 24 The Power of the Word: Can ' Virtue* be Taught? tious youth. In the eyes of Gorgias 'the w o r d ' was a despot who could do anything, but like a slave of the Tamp it would be at the ser­ vice o f those who took his courses. Reading the remains of Gorgias's writings, one is not inclined to accuse Plato of unfairness when he makes him disclaim any responsibility for the use to which his teaching may be put by others. It was subversive stuff, both morally and epistemologically, for the conviction that men could be persuaded of anything went naturally with the relativity of Protagoras's ' man the measure' doctrine and the nihilism of Gorgias's treatise On Nature or the Non-existent.

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A History of Greek Philosophy, Volume 3, Part 1: The Sophists by W. K. C. Guthrie


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