By W. K. C. Guthrie
The 3rd quantity of Professor Guthrie's nice heritage of Greek idea, entitled The Fifth-Century Enlightenment, bargains in components with the Sophists and Socrates, the major figures within the dramatic and basic shift of philosophical curiosity from the actual universe to guy. every one of those elements is now to be had as a paperback with the textual content, bibliography and indexes amended the place valuable in order that every one half is self-contained. The Sophists assesses the contribution of people like Protagoras, Gorgias and Hippias to the extreme highbrow and ethical fermant in fifth-century Athens. They wondered the bases of morality, faith and arranged society itself and the character of information and language; they initiated a complete sequence of significant and carrying on with debates, and so they provoked Socrates and Plato to an important restatement and defence of conventional values.
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Extra resources for A History of Greek Philosophy, Volume 3, Part 1: The Sophists
J. 1949, 58, n. 2 1 . 3 42 Competitors at the Festivals 1 recitation at a pan-Hellenic festival, or in one of the cities, was a way of making a new work known. Formerly the subjects had been poems, especially epic poems, and, although b y the fifth century the public reading of prose authors was also common, the elaborate epideictic rhetoric of the Sophists, when performed at the Olympian or Pythian games, aimed at something further. It was (and this is the second point) agonistic, competing for prizes in set contests as did the poets, musicians and athletes.
This competitiveness came to be a general characteristic of the Sophists. For Protagoras any discussion is a 'verbal battle', in which one must be victor and the other vanquished (Prot. 335 a), in contrast to Socrates's expressed ideal o f the 'common search', one helping the other that both may come nearer the truth. 3 Thucydides is contrasting himself with the Sophists when he says that his own work is not intended as a ' competition-piece for a single occasion' but a possession for all time.
T h e w h o l e passage 492 a - 4 9 3 d is illuminating. 21 Topics of the Day is the rampant individualism of those, like Plato's Callicles, who main tained that ideas of law and justice were merely a device of the majority of weaklings to keep the strong man, who is nature's just man, from his rightful place. Nomos and physis were enemies, and right was on the side of physis. The Sophist Antiphon drew an elaborate contrast between the works of nomos and those of physis, the former being unnecessary and artificial curbs imposed on nature b y human agree ment, the latter necessary and of natural origin.
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