This book offers an introduction to the Sophists of fifth-century Athens and a new overall interpretation of their thought. Since Plato first animadverted on their activities, the Sophists have commonly been presented as little better than intellectual mountebanks - a picture which Professor Kerferd forcefully challenges here. Interpreting the evidence with care, he shows them to have been part of an exciting and historically crucial intellectual movement. At the centre of their teaching was a form of relativism, most famously expressed (...) by Protagoras as 'Man is the measure of all things', and which they developed in a wide range of views - on knowledge and argument, virtue, government, society, and the gods. On all these subjects the Sophists did far more than simply provoke Plato to thought. Their contributions were substantial and serious; they inaugurated the debate on many central philosophical questions and decisively shifted the focus of philosophical attention from the cosmos to man. (shrink)
This fresh outlook on Socrates' political philosophy in Plato's early dialogues argues that it is both more subtle and less authoritarian than has been supposed. Focusing on the Crito, Richard Kraut shows that Plato explains Socrates' refusal to escape from jail and his acceptance of the death penalty as arising not from a philosophy that requires blind obedience to every legal command but from a highly balanced compromise between the state and the citizen. In addition, Professor Kraut contends that our (...) contemporary notions of civil disobedience and generalization arguments are not present in this dialogue. (shrink)
Plato's Sophist begins with an attempt to arrive by division at a definition of a Sophist. In the course of the attempt six different descriptions are discussed and the results summarized at 231 c-e. A seventh and final account may be said to occupy the whole of the rest of the dialogue, including the long digression on negative statements. The first five divisions characterize with a considerable amount of satire different types of sophist, or more probably different aspects of the (...) sophistic art. The sixth division is very different. To quote Cornford's words, ‘satire is dropped. The tone is serious and sympathetic, towards the close it becomes eloquent’. (shrink)
This is the story of philosophy in ancient and classical Greece. Robert Brumbaugh brings out the intrinsic and current importance in the development of Western philosophy from Thales to Aristotle. He emphasizes the insights and ideas that have proven crucial to later Western thought and reveals the success of the classical thinkers in forming systematic philosophic syntheses. This book is a useful introduction to philosophy. The ancient Greek discoveries led to the major systems used by the West today.