The Sophists


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Brief description of the influence of the Sophists to the Modern World.

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The Sophists

  1. 1. PAUL BOY Los Angeles Valley College Speech 104 Prof. Jim Marteney
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  3. 3. <ul><li>Intellectuals </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rhetoric, language, statesmanship, excellence, virtues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Claimed they knew all the answers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Concerned with the person and the persons place in the world </li></ul><ul><li>Charged highly for their services </li></ul><ul><li>Employed by higher classes </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>The Emerging democracy in Athens wanted educated people </li></ul><ul><li>Parents wanted to provide for their children </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Skills to secure them successful careers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Law and Politics </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Skills needed for law... </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Debating, persuasion, rhetoric, argument, questioning, logic, language </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>The Sophists appeal... </li></ul><ul><li>They created quite a stir </li></ul><ul><li>Younger generation wanted to revolt against tradition </li></ul><ul><li>People wanted questions answered </li></ul><ul><li>Politically ambitious admired their skills </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wanted to learn how to argue and WIN. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How to fight with conviction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ignore their own view </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Persuading the audience of the truth of your argument became the most important thing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The truth itself could be hidden </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>The most noteworthy of the Sophists was Protagoras , who speculated more about the gods than any philosopher before him. Protagoras did not believe that intimacy with God was possible, and concluded that &quot;I cannot know that they exist, nor yet that they do not exist.&quot; From that he produced the idea that became the classic humanist statement, &quot;Man is the measure of all things.“ </li></ul><ul><li>This turned humanity's view of the universe upside down--man now became more important than God. This was too radical for most Athenians, and they forced Protagoras to flee because of this &quot;impiety.&quot; However, after the Peloponnesian War ended, they no longer felt that Athens needed all the moral strength it could get, and embraced the ideas they had previously rejected. During this time Socrates would dismiss all myths as irrelevant by simply saying, &quot;Of the gods we know nothing.“ </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Unlike the Sophists, though, Socrates believed that by asking questions and subjecting the answers to logical analysis, agreement could be reached about ethical standards and rules of conduct. Consequently he questioned passers-by about everything ; he felt his purpose in life was to be the &quot;midwife assisting in the birth of correct ideas&quot; (to use his own figure of speech). Taking as his motto the famous inscription on the temple of Apollo at Delphi, &quot;Know thyself,&quot; he insisted that &quot;the unexamined life is not worth living.&quot; To Socrates, human excellence or virtue come from knowledge, and evil and error are the result of ignorance. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Born in Athens (469 - 399 B.C.) </li></ul><ul><li>Ugly, yet mind was creative, clear, critical, and eager </li></ul><ul><li>Socrates was first interested in natural science, including “ whether the earth is flat or not ’ , but he was not satisfied with the result of his research; so he abandoned the study of natural science and turned to the study of human life. </li></ul><ul><li>“ What did Socrates really know? ” </li></ul><ul><li>Socrates did not claim to know anything </li></ul><ul><li>Socrates did not think he knew a lot. </li></ul><ul><li>But, the Delphi ’ s Oracle, “ no one is wiser than Socrates ” ! </li></ul><ul><li>Probably, Socrates knew that he was ignorant, but the others did not know that they were ignorant. </li></ul>Religious Education Support - SLSS
  9. 9. <ul><li>Socrates belittled his own knowledge; in fact, really honest thinkers are seldom impressed by their own ability. </li></ul><ul><li>The companies by whom Socrates was constant surrounded were not so much as disciples but were as friends who loved him and drew inspiration from him. </li></ul><ul><li>Socrates liked to use dialogues with careful definition and logical thinking + systematic questioning, such as what, where, when, why, how, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Socrates, “ the greatest power on earth is the power of reflection. ” </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>In 399 B.C., 3 Athenian citizens accused Socrates of (1) “ heresy ” (or “ impiety ” ); (2) did not believe or observe the gods of the polis; and (3) “ corrupted the minds of the youth ” ! </li></ul><ul><li>According to G.M.A. Grube, “ at the time of his trial and execution in 399 B.C., Socrates was seventy years of age. He had lived through the Periclean Age when Athens was at the pinnacle of her imperial power and her cultural ascendancy, then through twenty-five years of war with Sparta [the Peloponnesian War, 431 - 404 B.C.] and the final defeat of Athens in 405 [404 B.C.], the oligarchic revolution that followed, and, finally, the restoration of democracy. </li></ul><ul><li>Not surprisingly, Socrates was often confused with these Sophists in the public mind, for both of them were apt to question established and inherited values. But their differences were vital: the Sophists professed to put men on the road to success [and to teach people rhetoric or how to argue with no moral responsibility as long as the Sophists got paid; (Socrates/Plato called them ‘ intellectual prostitutes ’ )], </li></ul><ul><li>whereas Socrates disclaimed that he taught anything; his conversation aimed at discovering the truth, at acquiring that knowledge and understanding of life and its values that he thought was the very basis of the good life and of philosophy, to him a moral as well as an intellectual pursuit. ” ( The Trial and Death of Socrates, pp. 1-2). </li></ul>Religious Education Support - SLSS
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  12. 12. <ul><li>Plato (427-347 B.C.) </li></ul><ul><li>born in Athens, </li></ul><ul><li>of noble birth, yet his youth witnessed the decline and fall of Athens (in 404 B.C., Sparta defeated Athens in the Peloponnesian War; + in 399 B.C., the trial and execution of Socrates, his beloved mentor/master, via “ democratic ” ways, [thus, Plato preferred Spartan timarchy to Athenian democracy (which was with ‘ selfish individualism, civic irresponsibility, diversity, disintegration, dislike of authority, no respect for the authority, class war + lack of cohesion, that is, all negative)]). </li></ul><ul><li>After the execution of Socrates in 399 B.C., with final disillusionment, Plato left Athens and traveled, including to Syracuse in southern Italy. </li></ul><ul><li>In 386 B.C., Plato returned to Athens and founded the Academy where he taught for the rest of his life (d. 347 B.C.). </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Plato used the dialogue form of writing as the most effective means of presenting his philosophical ideas. </li></ul><ul><li>It was not Plato ’ s intention to answer specific question or to propose final and dogmatic solutions to any of the problem that were being discussed. </li></ul><ul><li>Plato preferred instead to do something that would stimulate original thinking on the part of the reader. This manner of presentation enabled Plato to present contrasting points of views as they would likely to occur in a series of conversations taking place among individuals having different points of views. </li></ul><ul><li>Finally, by using conversational method (dialogue), it would be possible to illustrate way in which current issues of the day were related to one another. </li></ul><ul><li>This is one of the reasons why not one of Plato ’ s dialogues is devoted exclusively to the discussion of a single topic. Plato wanted to make it clear that in order to understand any particular subject, you must see how it is related to other subjects and to the field of knowledge as a whole </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>‘ Truth’ and ‘Justice’ - created by those in power </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To protect themselves </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To control people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In other words: those who were in power created laws that they told the people were “good” for everybody. But really it was just a way of controlling people and society. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Justice is simply the interest of the stronger ’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Thrasymachus </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Sophists appealed to the politically </li></ul><ul><li>ambitious younger generation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wanted to learn the power of persuasion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Through rhetoric </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learned debating and public speaking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learned to argue both sides of an argument with equal conviction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Despite their own view </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ability to persuade the audience of the truth of your position became the most important thing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The truth itself could be hidden </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>The sophists’ philosophy created tension in Athens </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They suggested there were no absolute norms for right or wrong </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This contributed to a breakdown in moral order </li></ul><ul><li>The distinction between good and evil was no longer clear </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>The sophists’ philosophy created tension in Athens </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They relativised truth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No longer a definite right or wrong </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Distinction between good and evil was no longer clear </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This caused problems in society </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>He who could argue best wins. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Or he who could pay the best Sophist to argue </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not always the person in the right </li></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 18. SOPHISTS ROCKS! - The sophists' rhetorical techniques were extremely useful for any young nobleman looking for public office. In addition to the individual benefits that Sophistic-style teaching conferred, the societal roles that the Sophists filled had important ramifications for the Athenian political system at large. The historical context in which the Sophists operated provides evidence for their considerable influence, as Athens became more and more democratic during the period in which the Sophists were most active. -The Sophists certainly were not directly responsible for Athenian democracy, but their cultural and psychological contributions played an important role in its growth. They contributed to the new democracy in part by espousing expertise in public deliberation, since this was the foundation of decision-making, which allowed and perhaps required a tolerance of the beliefs of others. - This liberal attitude would naturally have precipitated into the Athenian assembly as Sophists acquired increasingly high-powered clients. Contiguous rhetorical training gave the citizens of Athens &quot;the ability to create accounts of communal possibilities through persuasive speech“ This was extremely important for the democracy, as it gave disparate and sometimes superficially unattractive views a chance to be heard in the Athenian assembly. IN CONCLUSION…