Prologue -- The Greek stones speak : toward an archaeology of consciousness -- Singing the muses' song : myth, wisdom, and speech -- Physis, kosmos, logos : presocratic thought and the emergence of nature-consciousness -- Sophistical wisdom, Socratic wisdom, and the political life -- Civic wisdom, divine wisdom : Socrates, Plato, and two visions for the Athenian citizen -- Speculative wisdom, practical wisdom : Aristotle and the culmination of Hellenic thought -- Epilogue.
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Sophistical Wisdom:Politikê Aretê and “Logosophia”Christopher Lyle JohnstoneThe pursuit of Wisdom is at the center of the Western intellectual tradition, its attainment the literal ideal and end of all philosophical inquiry. It is recognized by various religions and belief systems as the key to a meaningful, fulfilling, happy life. Yet for all this, its nature remains unclear and the means of its attainment uncertain. Is it one thing, or are (...) there different kinds of wisdom? How is it acquired? Can it be taught or communicated to others? How, if at all, do speech and language figure in the attainment and dissemination of wisdom?The relationship between wisdom and utterance, reflected in the connection between philosophy and rhetoric, has been a focus of intellectual interest in the West since at least the time of Heraclitus of Ephesus (ca. 500 BCE): Parmenides, Empedocles, Protagoras, Gorgias, Socrates, Plato, Isocrates, Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, Augustine, Bacon, Vico—all have been concerned, either directly or indirectly, with the interrelation of speech or eloquence and what they view as the highest form of knowledge. Recent scholarship has pursued this relationship along several related lines of inquiry, albeit sometimes obliquely. Some investigators have examined the role of speech in the creation of all human knowledge.1 Others have concentrated more particularly on the role of rhetoric in the creation or exercise of wisdom.2 In an effort to illuminate the ancient foundations of these connections, several scholars have lately studied the link between language and thought in Greek philosophy and rhetoric.3My present interest centers on the linkages between wisdom and speech—between sophia and logos—in the teachings of those pivotal thinkers of the fifth-century Greek "Enlightenment," the Older Sophists. Although the doctrines of Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Empedocles, Archelaus, and the Atomists took up moral and political topics, presocratic thinkers generally had concentrated on the origins and mechanical workings of the physical world in which human beings live. As contemporaries of Protagoras and Gorgias, the Atomists—Leucippus and Democritus—are particularly noteworthy for having initiated inquiry into [End Page 265] the relationship between custom or law (nomos) and nature or objective reality (physis), which became a central concern for many of the Older Sophists.4 Such moral and political themes were taken up in earnest by the thinkers and teachers who resided in or were drawn to Athens in the fifth century BCE. Protagoras, Gorgias, Socrates, Antiphon, and others raised questions that were fundamentally political and moral: How should one live one's life? What are the values that should guide one's conduct? By what moral standards should our actions be judged, and how are these standards to be discovered? What legitimizes the laws that govern society? Are law and morality rooted in the nature of things, or are they merely matters of custom and convention? Such questions mark a shift in intellectual inquiry away from the sorts of naturalistic, metaphysical, and ontological problems that preoccupied presocratic thinkers and toward a primary concern with matters of praxis, politics, and morality.My aims in this essay are, first, to illuminate the conceptions of wisdom that can be reconstructed from our evidence for the teachings of the Older Sophists, and then to discern the role of speech in the attainment and exercise of this wisdom. The past half-century or so has witnessed a growing interest in the Sophists of fifth-century Athens. This interest is particularly noteworthy because it involves a determination to consider the Sophists on their own terms rather than through Plato's eyes, as had been customary in most nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sophistical studies. Though an early precedent was set by Grote's (1846) effort to challenge the Platonist bias in historical treatments of the Sophists, it was such scholars as Untersteiner (1949, 1954), Cornford (1950), Kerferd (1950, 1981), and Guthrie (1968, 1971) who inspired more recent revisionist histories of sophistical ideas.5 More recent studies have sought to illuminate the philosophical foundations of such ideas and their implications for the theory and practice of rhetoric. J. Poulakos (1983a, 1983b, 1984, 1990, 1995), Schiappa (1990, 1991, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999), de Romilly (1992), Consigny (2001), McComisky (2002), Gagarin (2002... (shrink)