Sophist

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A sophist (Greek : σοφιστής, sophistes) was a specific kind of teacher in ancient Greece, in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. Many sophists specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric, though other sophists taught subjects such as music, athletics, and mathematics. In general, they claimed to teach arete ("excellence" or "virtue", applied to various subject areas), predominantly to young statesmen and nobility.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Ancient Greece Civilization belonging to an early period of Greek history

Ancient Greece was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Roughly three centuries after the Late Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Greek urban poleis began to form in the 8th century BC, ushering in the Archaic period and colonization of the Mediterranean Basin. This was followed by the period of Classical Greece, an era that began with the Greco-Persian Wars, lasting from the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Due to the conquests by Alexander the Great of Macedon, Hellenistic civilization flourished from Central Asia to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. The Hellenistic period came to an end with the conquests and annexations of the eastern Mediterranean world by the Roman Republic, which established the Roman province of Macedonia in Roman Greece, and later the province of Achaea during the Roman Empire.

Philosophy Study of general and fundamental questions

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

Contents

The term originated from Greek σόφισμα, sophisma, from σοφίζω, sophizo "I am wise"; confer σοφιστής, sophistēs, meaning "wise-ist, one who does wisdom," and σοφός, sophós means "wise man".

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE

The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by medieval Greek.

Wisdom deep understanding of or knowledge of a subject

Wisdom, sapience, or sagacity is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight. Wisdom is associated with attributes such as unbiased judgment, compassion, experiential self-knowledge, self-transcendence and non-attachment, and virtues such as ethics and benevolence.

Etymology

The Greek σοφός (sophos), related to the noun σοφία ( sophia ), had the meaning "skilled" or "wise" since the time of the poet Homer and originally was used to describe anyone with expertise in a specific domain of knowledge or craft. For example, a charioteer, a sculptor, or a warrior could be described as sophoi in their occupations. Gradually, the word also came to denote general wisdom and especially wisdom about human affairs, for example, in politics, ethics, or household management. This was the meaning ascribed to the Greek Seven Sages of 7th and 6th century BCE (such as Solon and Thales), and it was the meaning that appears in the histories of Herodotus.

Sophia (wisdom) personification of wisdom in Hellenistic philosophy

Sophia is a central idea in Hellenistic philosophy and religion, Platonism, Gnosticism, and Christian theology. Originally carrying a meaning of "cleverness, skill", the later meaning of the term, close to the meaning of Phronesis, was significantly shaped by the term philosophy as used by Plato.

Homer name ascribed by the ancient Greeks to the legendary author of the Iliad and the Odyssey

Homer is the legendary author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, two epic poems that are the central works of ancient Greek literature. The Iliad is set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek kingdoms. It focuses on a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles lasting a few weeks during the last year of the war. The Odyssey focuses on the ten-year journey home of Odysseus, king of Ithaca, after the fall of Troy. Many accounts of Homer's life circulated in classical antiquity, the most widespread being that he was a blind bard from Ionia, a region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey. Modern scholars consider these accounts legendary.

Seven Sages of Greece

The Seven Sages or Seven Wise Men was the title given by classical Greek tradition to seven philosophers, statesmen, and law-givers of the 6th century BC who were renowned for their wisdom.

From the word σοφός (sophos) is derived the verb σοφίζω (sophizo), which means "to instruct or make learned," and in the passive voice means "to become or be wise," or "to be clever or skilled in a thing." From this verb is derived the noun σοφιστής (sophistes), which originally meant "a master of one's craft" but later came to mean "a prudent man" or "wise man". [1] The word for "sophist" in various languages comes from sophistes.

The word "sophist" could be combined with other Greek words to form compounds. Examples include meteorosophist, which roughly translates to "expert in celestial phenomena"; gymnosophist (or "naked sophist," a word used to refer to Indian philosophers, deipnosophist or "dinner sophist" (as in the title of Athenaeus's Deipnosophistae), and iatrosophist, a type of physician in the later Roman period.

Athenaeus of Naucratis was a Greek rhetorician and grammarian, flourishing about the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd century AD. The Suda says only that he lived in the times of Marcus Aurelius, but the contempt with which he speaks of Commodus, who died in 192, shows that he survived that emperor. He was a contemporary of Adrantus.

<i>Deipnosophistae</i> work by ancient greek author Athenaios

The Deipnosophistae is an early 3rd-century AD Greek work by the Greco-Egyptian author Athenaeus of Naucratis. It is a long work of literary, historical, and antiquarian references set in Rome at a series of banquets held by the protagonist Publius Livius Larensis for an assembly of grammarians, lexicographers, jurists, musicians, and hangers-on. It is sometimes called the oldest surviving cookbook.

History

Few writings from and about the first sophists survive. The early sophists charged money in exchange for education and providing wisdom, and so were typically employed by wealthy people. This practice resulted in the condemnations made by Socrates through Plato in his dialogues, as well as by Xenophon in his Memorabilia and, somewhat controversially, by Aristotle. As a paid tutor to Alexander the Great, Aristotle could be accused of being a sophist. Aristotle did not actually accept payment from Philip, Alexander's father, but requested that Philip reconstruct Aristotle's home town of Stageira as payment, which Philip had destroyed in a previous campaign, terms which Philip accepted)[ citation needed ]. James A. Herrick wrote: "In De Oratore , Cicero blames Plato for separating wisdom and eloquence in the philosopher's famous attack on the sophists in Gorgias ." [2] Through works such as these, sophists were portrayed as "specious" or "deceptive", hence the modern meaning of the term.

Socrates classical Greek Athenian philosopher

Socrates was a classical Greek (Athenian) philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, and as being the first moral philosopher, of the Western ethical tradition of thought. An enigmatic figure, he made no writings, and is known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers writing after his lifetime, particularly his students Plato and Xenophon. Other sources include the contemporaneous Antisthenes, Aristippus, and Aeschines of Sphettos. Aristophanes, a playwright, is the main contemporary author to have written plays mentioning Socrates during Socrates' lifetime, though a fragment of Ion of Chios' Travel Journal provides important information about Socrates' youth.

Plato Classical Greek philosopher

Plato was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world.

Xenophon Ancient Greek historian and philosopher

Xenophon of Athens was an ancient Greek philosopher, historian, soldier, mercenary, and student of Socrates. As a soldier, Xenophon became commander of the Ten Thousand at about 30, with noted military historian Theodore Ayrault Dodge saying of him, “the centuries since have devised nothing to surpass the genius of this warrior.” He established the precedent for many logistical operations and was among the first to use flanking maneuvers, feints and attacks in depth. He was among the greatest commanders of antiquity. As a historian, Xenophon is known for recording the history of his time, the late-5th and early-4th centuries BC, in such works as the Hellenica, which covered the final seven years and the aftermath of the Peloponnesian War, thus representing a thematic continuation of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War.

The classical tradition of rhetoric and composition refers more to philosophers such as Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian than to the sophists. Owing largely to the influence of Plato and Aristotle, philosophy came to be regarded as distinct from sophistry, the latter being regarded as specious and rhetorical, a practical discipline. Thus, by the time of the Roman Empire, a sophist was simply a teacher of rhetoric and a popular public speaker. For instance, Libanius, Himerius, Aelius Aristides, and Fronto were sophists in this sense [ citation needed ]. However, despite the opposition from philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, it is clear that sophists had a vast influence on a number of spheres, including the growth of knowledge and on ethical political theory. Their teachings had a huge influence on thought in the fifth century BCE. [ citation needed ] The sophists focused on the rational examination of human affairs and the betterment and success of human life. They argued that divine deities could not be the explanation of human action.

5th century BCE

In the second half of the 5th century BCE, particularly in Athens, "sophist" came to denote a class of mostly itinerant intellectuals who taught courses in various subjects, speculated about the nature of language and culture, and employed rhetoric to achieve their purposes, generally to persuade or convince others. "Sophists did, however, have one important thing in common: whatever else they did or did not claim to know, they characteristically had a great understanding of what words would entertain or impress or persuade an audience." [3] Sophists went to Athens to teach because the city was flourishing at the time. It was good employment for those good at debate, which was a specialty of the first sophists, and they received the fame and fortune they were seeking. Protagoras is generally regarded as the first of these professional sophists. Others include Gorgias, Prodicus, Hippias, Thrasymachus, Lycophron, Callicles, Antiphon, and Cratylus. A few sophists claimed that they could find the answers to all questions. Most of these sophists are known today primarily through the writings of their opponents (particularly Plato and Aristotle), which makes it difficult to assemble an unbiased view of their practices and teachings. In some cases, such as Gorgias, original rhetorical works are extant, allowing the author to be judged on his own terms, but in most cases knowledge about what individual sophists wrote or said comes from fragmentary quotations that lack context and are usually hostile.

Sophists could be described both as teachers and philosophers, having traveled about in Greece teaching their students various life skills, particularly rhetoric and public speaking. These were useful qualities of the time, during which persuasive ability had a large influence on one's political power and economic wealth. Athens became the center of the sophists' activity, due to the city's freedom of speech for non-slave citizens and its wealth of resources. The sophists as a group had no set teachings, and they lectured on subjects that were as diverse as semantics and rhetoric, to ontology, and epistemology. Most sophists claimed to teach arête (“excellence” or “virtue”) in the management and administration of not only one’s affairs, but the city’s as well. Before the fifth century BCE, it was believed that aristocratic birth qualified a person for arête and politics. However, Protagoras, who is regarded as the first sophist, argued that arête was the result of training rather than birth.[ citation needed ]

1st century CE

From the late 1st century CE the Second Sophistic, a philosophical and rhetorical movement, was the chief expression of intellectual life. The term "Second Sophistic" comes from Philostratos, who rejecting the term "New Sophistic" traced the beginnings of the movement to the orator Aeschines in the 4th century BCE. But its earliest representative was really Nicetas of Smyrna, in the late 1st century CE. Unlike the original Sophistic movement of the 5th century BCE, the Second Sophistic was little concerned with politics. But it was, to a large degree, to meet the everyday needs and respond to the practical problems of Greco-Roman society. It came to dominate higher education and left its mark on many forms of literature[ citation needed ]. Lucian, himself a writer of the Second Sophistic, even calls Jesus "that crucified sophist". [4] This article, however, only discusses the Sophists of Classical Greece.

Major figures

Most of what is known about sophists comes from commentaries from others. In some cases, such as Gorgias, some of his works survive, allowing the author to be judged on his own terms. In one case, the Dissoi logoi, an important sophist text survived but knowledge of its author has been lost. However, most knowledge of sophist thought comes from fragmentary quotations that lack context. Many of these quotations come from Aristotle, who seems to have held the sophists in slight regard.[ citation needed ]

Protagoras

Protagoras was one of the best known and most successful sophists of his era; however, some later philosophers, such as Sextus Empiricus [5] treat him as a founder of a philosophy rather than as a sophist. Protagoras taught his students the necessary skills and knowledge for a successful life, particularly in politics. He trained his pupils to argue from both points of view because he believed that truth could not be limited to just one side of the argument. Protagoras wrote about a variety of subjects and advanced several philosophical ideas, particularly in epistemology. Some fragments of his works have survived. He is the author of the famous saying, “Man is the measure of all things,” which is the opening sentence of a work called Truth. [6]

Gorgias

Gorgias was a well-known sophist whose writings showcased his ability to make counter-intuitive and unpopular positions appear stronger. Gorgias authored a lost work known as On the Non-Existent , which argues that nothing exists. In it, he attempts to persuade his readers that thought and existence are different. [7] He also wrote Encomium of Helen in which he presents all of the possible reasons for which Helen could be blamed for causing the Trojan War and refutes each one of them.

Criticism

Many sophists taught their skills for a price. Due to the importance of such skills in the litigious social life of Athens, practitioners often commanded very high fees. The sophists' practice of questioning the existence and roles of traditional deities and investigating into the nature of the heavens and the earth prompted a popular reaction against them. The attacks of some of their followers against Socrates prompted a vigorous condemnation from his followers, including Plato and Xenophon, as there was a popular view of Socrates as a sophist. For example, the comic playwright Aristophanes criticizes the sophists as hairsplitting wordsmiths, and makes Socrates their representative. [8] Their attitude, coupled with the wealth garnered by many of the sophists, eventually led to popular resentment against sophist practitioners and the ideas and writings associated with sophism.

Plato

As only small portions of the sophists’ writings have survived they are mainly known through the works of Plato. Plato's dialogs present his generally hostile views on the sophists’ thought, due to which he is largely responsible for the modern view of the sophist as a avaricious instructor who teaches deception. Plato depicts Socrates as refuting some sophists in several of his dialogues, depicting sophists in an unflattering light. It is unclear how accurate or fair Plato's representation of them may be; however, Protagoras and Prodicus are portrayed in a largely positive light in Protagoras (dialogue).

Aristophanes

The comic playwright Aristophanes, a contemporary of the sophists, criticized the sophists as hairsplitting wordsmiths. Aristophanes, however, made no distinction between sophists and philosophers, and showed either of them as willing to argue any position for the right fee. In his comedic play The Clouds, Strepsiades seeks the help of Socrates (a parody of the actual philosopher) in an effort to avoid paying his debts. In the play, Socrates promises to teach Strepsiades' son to argue his way out of paying his debts.[ citation needed ]

Socrates

An ongoing debate is centered on the difference between the sophists, who charged for their services, and Socrates, who did not. [9] Instead of giving instruction Socrates professed a self-effacing and questioning posture, exemplified by what is known as the Socratic method, although Diogenes Laërtius wrote that Protagoras — a sophist — invented this method. [10] [11] ) Socrates' attitude towards the sophists was by not entirely oppositional. In one dialogue Socrates even stated that the sophists were better educators than he was, [12] which he validated by sending one of his students to study under a sophist. [13] W. K. C. Guthrie classified Socrates as a sophist in his History of Greek Philosophy. [13]

Before Plato, the word "sophist" could be used as either a respectful or contemptuous title, much like the word "intellectual" can be used today. It was in Plato’s dialogue, Sophist, that the first record of an attempt to answer the question “what is a sophist?” is made. Plato described sophists as paid hunters after the young and wealthy, as merchants of knowledge, as athletes in a contest of words, and purgers of souls. From Plato's assessment of sophists it could be concluded that sophists do not offer true knowledge, but only an opinion of things. Plato describes them as shadows of the true, saying, "...the art of contradiction making, descended from an insincere kind of conceited mimicry, of the semblance-making breed, derived from image making, distinguished as portion, not divine but human, of production, that presents, a shadow play of words—such are the blood and the lineage which can, with perfect truth, be assigned to the authentic sophist". Plato sought to distinguish sophists from philosophers, arguing that a sophist was a person who made his living through deception, whereas a philosopher was a lover of wisdom who sought the truth. To give the philosophers greater credence, Plato gave the sophists a negative connotation. [14]

Plato depicts Socrates as refuting sophists in several dialogues. These texts often depict the sophists in an unflattering light, and it is unclear how accurate or fair Plato's representation of them may be; however, Protagoras and Prodicus are portrayed in a largely positive light in Protagoras (dialogue). Protagoras argued that "man is the measure of all things", meaning man decides for himself what he is going to believe. [15] The works of Plato and Aristotle have had much influence on the modern view of the "sophist" as a greedy instructor who uses rhetorical sleight-of-hand and ambiguities of language in order to deceive, or to support fallacious reasoning. In this view, the sophist is not concerned with truth and justice, but instead seeks power.

Some scholars, such as Ugo Zilioli [16] argue that the sophists held a relativistic view on cognition and knowledge. However, this may involve the Greek word "doxa", which means "culturally shared belief" rather than "individual opinion". The sophists' philosophy contains criticisms of religion, law, and ethics. Although many sophists were apparently as religious as their contemporaries, some held atheistic or agnostic views (for example, Protagoras and Diagoras of Melos).

Influence

Democracy

The sophists' rhetorical techniques were useful for any young nobleman looking for public office. The societal roles the sophists filled had important ramifications for the Athenian political system. The historical context provides evidence for their considerable influence, as Athens became more and more democratic during the period in which the sophists were most active. [17]

Even though Athens was already a flourishing democracy before their arrival, the cultural and psychological contributions of the sophists played an important role in the growth of Athenian democracy. Sophists contributed to the new democracy in part by espousing expertise in public deliberation, the foundation of decision-making, which allowed — and perhaps required — a tolerance of the beliefs of others. This liberal attitude would naturally have made its way into the Athenian assembly as sophists began acquiring increasingly high-powered clients. [18] Continuous rhetorical training gave the citizens of Athens "the ability to create accounts of communal possibilities through persuasive speech". [19] This was important for the democracy, as it gave disparate and sometimes superficially unattractive views a chance to be heard in the Athenian assembly.

In addition, sophists had a great impact on the early development of law, as the sophists were the first lawyers in the world. Their status as lawyers was a result of their highly developed skills in argument. [20]

Education

Athens

The sophists were the first formal teachers of the art of speaking and writing in the Western world. Their influence on education in general, and medical education in particular, has been described by Seamus Mac Suibhne. [21] The sophists "offer quite a different epistemic field from that mapped by Aristotle", according to scholar Susan Jarratt, writer of Rereading the Sophists: Classical Rhetoric Refigured.

Rome

During the Second Sophistic, the Greek discipline of rhetoric heavily influenced Roman education. During this time Latin rhetorical studies were banned for the precedent of Greek rhetorical studies. In addition, Greek history was preferred for educating the Roman elites above that of their native Roman history. [22]

Many rhetoricians during this period were instructed under specialists in Greek rhetorical studies as part of their standard education. Cicero, a prominent rhetorician during this period in Roman history, is one such example of the influence of the Second Sophistic on Roman education. His early life coincided with the suppression of Latin rhetoric in Roman education under the edicts of Crassus and Domitius. Cicero was instructed in Greek rhetoric throughout his youth, as well as in other subjects of the Roman rubric under Archias. Cicero benefited in his early education from favorable ties to Crassus. [22]

In his writings, Cicero is said to have shown a "synthesis that he achieved between Greek and Roman culture" summed up in his work De Oratore. Despite his oratorical skill, Cicero pressed for a more liberal education in Roman instruction which focused more in the broad sciences including Roman history. He entitled this set of sciences as politior humanitas (2.72). Regardless of his efforts toward this end, Greek history was still preferred by the majority of aristocratic Romans during this time. [23]

Modern usage

In modern usage, sophism, sophist and sophistry are used disparagingly. A sophism is a fallacious argument, especially one used deliberately to deceive. [24] [25] A sophist is a person who reasons with clever but fallacious and deceptive arguments. [26] [27]

See also

Notes

  1. A Lexicon Abridged from Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon, Oxford: Clarendon, 1996, s.v.v. σοφίζω and σοφιστής.
  2. Herrick, James (2005). The History and Theory of Rhetoric: An Introduction. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. p. 103. ISBN   978-0-205-41492-5.
  3. Plato protagoras, intro by N Denyer, p1, cambridge up, 2008
  4. Lucian, Peregrinus 13 (τὸν δὲ ἀνεσκολοπισμένον ἐκεῖνον σοφιστὴν αὐτὸν), cited by Guthrie p.34.
  5. 'Outlines of Pyrrhonism' Book I, Chapter 32.
  6. Vaulker, Aashish (2012). Markets and measurements in nineteenth-century Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 218–228.
  7. Gaines, Robert N. (1997). Philosophy & Rhetoric. Pennsylvania: Penn State University Press. pp. 1–12.
  8. Aristophanes' "clouds"; Aeschines 1.173; Diels & Kranz, "Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker",80 A 21
  9. Blank, David L. (1985-01-01). "Socratics versus Sophists on Payment for Teaching". Classical Antiquity. 4 (1): 1–49. doi:10.2307/25010822. JSTOR   25010822.
  10. Jarratt, Susan C. Rereading the Sophists: Classical Rhetoric Refigured. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1991, p. 83
  11. Sprague, Rosamond Kent, The Older Sophists, Hackett Publishing Company ( ISBN   0-87220-556-8), p. 5
  12. Guthrie, W. K. C. Vol. 3 of History of Greek Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969, p. 399
  13. 1 2 Guthrie, W. K. C. Vol. 3 of History of Greek Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969, p. 401
  14. Shiappa, Edward. "Protagoras and Logos" (University of South Carolina Press, 1991) 5
  15. Versenyi, Laszlo (1962-01-01). "Protagoras' Man-Measure Fragment". The American Journal of Philology. 83 (2): 178–184. doi:10.2307/292215. JSTOR   292215.
  16. Waterfield, Robin (2009). "Protagoras and the Challenge of Relativism: Platos Subtlest Enemy. By Ugo Zilioli". The Heythrop Journal. 50 (3): 509–510. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2265.2009.00484_1.x.
  17. Blackwell, Christopher. Demos: Classical Athenian Democracy. 28 February 2003. The Stoa: a Consortium for Scholarly Publication in the Humanitiez. 25 April 2007.
  18. Sprague, Rosamond Kent, The Older Sophists, Hacker Publishing Company ( ISBN   0-87220-556-8), p. 32
  19. Jarratt, Susan C. Rereading the Sophists: Classical Rhetoric Refigured. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1991, p. 98
  20. Martin, Richard. "Seven Sages as Performers of Wisdom". Cultural Poetics in Archaic Greece. New York: Oxford, 1988. 108–130.
  21. Mac Suibhne, Seamus (Jan 2010). "Sophists, sophistry, and modern medical education". Medical Teacher. 32 (1): 71–5. doi:10.3109/01421590903386799. PMID   20095778.
  22. 1 2 Clarke, M.L. (April 1968). "Cicero at School". Greece & Rome. Second Series. Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Classical Association. 15 (1): 18–22. doi:10.1017/s001738350001679x. JSTOR   642252.
  23. Eyre, J.J. (March 1963). "Roman Education in the Late Republic and Early Empire". Greece & Rome, Second Edition. Cambridge University Press. 10 (1): 47–59. doi:10.1017/s0017383500012869. JSTOR   642792.
  24. Sophism | Define Sophism at Dictionary.com
  25. Sophism | Definition of Sophism by Merriam-Webster
  26. Sophists | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  27. The Sophists (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

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The Menexenus is a Socratic dialogue of Plato, traditionally included in the seventh tetralogy along with the Greater and Lesser Hippias and the Ion. The speakers are Socrates and Menexenus, who is not to be confused with Socrates' son Menexenus. The Menexenus of Plato's dialogue appears also in the Lysis, where he is identified as the "son of Demophon", as well as the Phaedo.

Thrasymachus was a sophist of ancient Greece best known as a character in Plato's Republic.

The Sophist is a Platonic dialogue from the philosopher's late period, most likely written in 360 BC. Its main theme is to identify what a sophist is and how a sophist differs from a philosopher and statesman. Because each seems distinguished by a particular form of knowledge, the dialogue continues some of the lines of inquiry pursued in the epistemological dialogue, Theaetetus, which is said to have taken place the day before. Because the Sophist treats these matters, it is often taken to shed light on Plato's Theory of Forms and is compared with the Parmenides, which criticized what is often taken to be the theory of forms.

Callicles was an ancient Athenian political philosopher best remembered for his role in Plato’s dialogue Gorgias, where he "presents himself as a no-holds-barred, bare-knuckled, clear-headed advocate of Realpolitik". While he provides a counter-argument to Plato’s philosophical ideas, the lack of other contemporaneous sources about him suggests that he may be no more than a character created by Plato for the dialogue. Another idea proposed is that Callicles is a fragment of what Plato may be, had he not Socrates to guide him. He is the antithesis to Socrates.

Bryson of Heraclea was an ancient Greek mathematician and sophist who contributed to solving the problem of squaring the circle and calculating pi.

This page is a list of topics in ancient philosophy.

Against the Sophists is among the few Isocratic speeches that have survived from Ancient Greece. This polemical text was Isocrates' attempt to define his educational doctrine and to separate himself from the multitudes of other teachers of rhetoric. Isocrates was a sophist, an identity which carried the same level of negative connotation as it does now. Many of the sophistic educators were characterized as deceitful because they were more concerned with making a profit from teaching persuasive trickery than of producing quality orators that would promote Athenian democracy. Isocrates was more concerned with the latter of these objectives and sought to separate himself from these less reputable sophistic teachers. After opening his school around 393 or 392 BC, Isocrates wrote Against the Sophists to clearly distinguish his teaching methods from the commonly held view of sophistic education.

Phaedrus, son of Pythocles, of the Myrrhinus deme, was an ancient Athenian aristocrat associated with the inner-circle of the philosopher Socrates. He was indicted in the profanation of the Eleusinian mysteries in 415 during the Peloponnesian War, causing him to flee Athens.

Dionysodorus was an ancient Greek sophistic philosopher and teacher of martial arts, generalship, and oration. Closely associated with his brother and fellow sophist Euthydemus, he is depicted in the writing of Plato and Xenophon.

Edward Schiappa American scholar and Professor

Anthony Edward Schiappa, Jr. is an American scholar of communication and rhetoric, currently Professor and Head of Comparative Media Studies/Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he holds the John E. Burchard Chair of Humanities. Previously, he spent seventeen years in the Communication Studies Department at the University of Minnesota, the last seven of which he served as Chair. He is the author of eight books and numerous articles that have appeared in classics, communication, English/Composition, philosophy, and psychology journals.

John Poulakos has worked in the field of rhetoric as a professor and author, contributing to the study of classical rhetoric.

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