Sophistry and Philosophy in Plato's Republic

Polis 22 (2):265-286 (2005)

Marina McCoy
Boston College
The Republic presents the sophist in three ways: through an example , an abstract description in Book Six, and an image . Thrasymachus presents a coherent understanding of justice and is not inconsistent, as some commentators have argued. Both the philosopher and the sophist are intellectuals who value wisdom, but on Socrates' account, the sophist equates the necessary with the good. The philosopher separates the necessary and the good, and orients himself to a truth outside of himself. However, the Republic suggests that there is no meta-philosophical position by which the philosopher and the sophist can be judged. The separation of the philosopher from the sophist makes sense only from the viewpoint of the philosopher. Socrates' emphasis on the incompleteness of wisdom also suggests that the philosopher's understanding of his own activity must remain open to change
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