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)
"It is the purpose of this article to attempt to re-examine the account of Thrasymachus' doctrine in Plato's Republic, and to show how it can form a self-consistent whole. [...] In this paper it is maintained that Thrasymachus is holding a form of [natural right]." Note: Volume 40 = new series 9.
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)