The Place of Protagoras in Athenian Public Life (460–415 B.C.)

Classical Quarterly 35 (1-2):1- (1941)
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Abstract

Protagoras, of all the ancient philosophers, has perhaps attracted the most interest in modern times. His saying ‘Man is the measure of all things’ caused Schiller to adopt him as the patron of the Oxford pragmatists, and has generally earned him the title of the first humanist. Yet the exact delineation of his philosophcal position remains a baffling task. Neumann, writing on Die Problematik des ‘Homo-mensura’ Satzes in 1938,2 concludes that no certainty whatever can be reached on the meaning of the dictum, since ‘man’, ‘measure’, and ‘things’ are all ambiguous, nor can we tell which of the three is the predicate. The time is past when it was believed that a man's philosophy could be understood apart from the events of his life and the circumstances of his age: yet in the case of Protagoras the historical method of approach has hardly been attempted, although the impact of environment was perhaps more decisive in the formation of philosophical concepts in the Greek world than anywhere else. The reality about which the Greek philosopher spoke had three aspects: it was either the one universe of physics, or the political unity, or God. For example, the book of Heracleitus Περ φσεως was divided into three chapters or logoi, About the Whole, a political, and a theological. Neither physics nor theology supplies from its own subject-matter the form in which this reality was described.

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References found in this work

On the Date of the Trial of Anaxagoras.A. E. Taylor - 1917 - Classical Quarterly 11 (02):81-.

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