References and Further Reading 1.
Since Homer at least, these terms had a wide range of application, extending from practical know-how and prudence in public affairs to poetic ability and theoretical knowledge.
Notably, the term sophia could be used to describe disingenuous cleverness long before the rise of the sophistic movement. Theognis, for example, writing in the sixth century B. In the fifth century B. The Clouds depicts the tribulations of Strepsiades, an elderly Athenian citizen with significant debts.
Deciding that the best way to discharge his debts is to defeat his creditors in court, he attends The Thinkery, an institute of higher education headed up by the sophist Socrates. When he fails to learn the art of speaking in The Thinkery, Strepsiades persuades his initially reluctant son, Pheidippides, to accompany him.
Here they encounter two associates of Socrates, the Stronger and the Weaker Arguments, who represent lives of justice and self-discipline and injustice and self-indulgence respectively.
On the basis of a popular vote, the Weaker Argument prevails and leads Pheidippides into The Thinkery for an education in how to make the weaker argument defeat the stronger.
Strepsiades later revisits The Thinkery and finds that Socrates has turned his son into a pale and useless intellectual.
In the first instance, it demonstrates that the distinction between Socrates and his sophistic counterparts was far from clear to their contemporaries.
Although Socrates did not charge fees and frequently asserted that all he knew was that he was ignorant of most matters, his association with the sophists reflects both the indeterminacy of the term sophist and the difficulty, at least for the everyday Athenian citizen, of distinguishing his methods from theirs.
Thirdly, the attribution to the sophists of intellectual deviousness and moral dubiousness predates Plato and Aristotle. He is depicted by Plato as suggesting that sophists are the ruin of all those who come into contact with them and as advocating their expulsion from the city Meno, 91cc.
Hippocrates is so eager to meet Protagoras that he wakes Socrates in the early hours of the morning, yet later concedes that he himself would be ashamed to be known as a sophist by his fellow citizens.
Plato depicts Protagoras as well aware of the hostility and resentment engendered by his profession Protagoras, c-e. It is not surprising, Protagoras suggests, that foreigners who profess to be wise and persuade the wealthy youth of powerful cities to forsake their family and friends and consort with them would arouse suspicion.
Indeed, Protagoras claims that the sophistic art is an ancient one, but that sophists of old, including poets such as Homer, Hesiod and Simonides, prophets, seers and even physical trainers, deliberately did not adopt the name for fear of persecution.
Protagoras says that while he has adopted a strategy of openly professing to be a sophist, he has taken other precautions — perhaps including his association with the Athenian general Pericles — in order to secure his safety.
The low standing of the sophists in Athenian public opinion does not stem from a single source. No doubt suspicion of intellectuals among the many was a factor. New money and democratic decision-making, however, also constituted a threat to the conservative Athenian aristocratic establishment.
In the context of Athenian political life of the late fifth century B. The development of democracy made mastery of the spoken word not only a precondition of political success but also indispensable as a form of self-defence in the event that one was subject to a lawsuit.
The sophists accordingly answered a growing need among the young and ambitious. This is a long-standing ideal, but one best realised in democratic Athens through rhetoric. Rhetoric was thus the core of the sophistic education Protagoras, eeven if most sophists professed to teach a broader range of subjects.
Suspicion towards the sophists was also informed by their departure from the aristocratic model of education paideia. Since Homeric Greece, paideia had been the preoccupation of the ruling nobles and was based around a set of moral precepts befitting an aristocratic warrior class.
The sophists were thus a threat to the status quo because they made an indiscriminate promise — assuming capacity to pay fees — to provide the young and ambitious with the power to prevail in public life.
This is only a starting point, however, and the broad and significant intellectual achievement of the sophists, which we will consider in the following two sections, has led some to ask whether it is possible or desirable to attribute them with a unique method or outlook that would serve as a unifying characteristic while also differentiating them from philosophers.
Scholarship in the nineteenth century and beyond has often fastened on method as a way of differentiating Socrates from the sophists. For Henry Sidgwick, for example, whereas Socrates employed a question-and-answer method in search of the truth, the sophists gave long epideictic or display speeches for the purposes of persuasion.
It seems difficult to maintain a clear methodical differentiation on this basis, given that Gorgias and Protagoras both claimed proficiency in short speeches and that Socrates engages in long eloquent speeches — many in mythical form — throughout the Platonic dialogues. It is moreover simply misleading to say that the sophists were in all cases unconcerned with truth, as to assert the relativity of truth is itself to make a truth claim.Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings, 10/e integrates four different approaches to argument: the enthymeme as a logical structure, the classical concepts of logos, pathos, and ethos, the Toulmin system, and stasis theory.
Focusing on argument as dialogue in search of solutions instead of a pro-con debate with winners and losers, it is /5(). Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings, Concise Edition, MLA Update Edition / Edition 7 For courses in Argument and Research.
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