The maxim of Protagoras, for example, "Man is the measure of all things," has a different purpose; it was meant to point to the truth that man rather than nature is the primary object of human study: it is a doctrine of humanism rather than of relativism.
The first four definitions represent the period of Protagoras, Prodicus, and their immediate successors, when the object sought was " virtue," " excellence," " culture," and the means to it was literature.
In this he follows Protagoras, who, according to Photius (cod.
PROTAGORAS (c. 481-411 B.C.), Greek philosopher, was born at Abdera.
At the age of seventy, having been accused by Pythodorus, and convicted of atheism, Protagoras fled from Athens, and on his way to Sicily was lost at sea.
Protagoras was the first to systematize grammar, distinguishing the parts of speech, the tenses and the moods.
On Protagoras' philosophy see the histories of philosophy, e.g.
4 Athens was at this time the centre of intellectual life, and could boast an almost unique galaxy of talent - Pericles, Thucydides the son of Melesias, Aspasia, Antiphon, the musician Damon, Pheidias, Protagoras, Zeno, Cratinus, Crates, Euripides and Sophocles.
The Sophists were the first in Greece to dissolve knowledge into individual and momentary opinion (Protagoras), or dialectically to deny the possibility of knowledge (Gorgias).
Moreover, the arguments by which Heraclitus supported this theory of the universal flux are employed by Protagoras to undermine the possibility of objective truth, by dissolving all knowledge into the momentary sensation or persuasion of the individual.
Hume's analysis of the conceptions of a permanent world and a permanent self reduces us to the sensationalistic relativism of Protagoras.
Logic and physical science they held to be useless, for all knowledge is immediate sensation (see Protagoras).
Since (following Protagoras) knowledge is solely of momentary sensations, it is useless to try, as Socrates recommended, to make calculations as to future pleasures, and to balance present enjoyment with disagreeable consequences.
In Kant's Analogien der Erfahrung (1876) he keenly criticized Kant's transcendentalism, and in his chief work Idealismus and Positivismus (3 vols., 1879-1884), he drew a clear contrast between Platonism, from which he derived transcendentalism, and positivism, of which he considered Protagoras the founder.
The master and his scholars were called Peripatetics (ol Ert Tov 7reptlredrov), certainly from meeting, like other philosophical schools, in a walk (7repL7raros), and perhaps also, on the authority of Hermippus of Smyrna, from walking and talking there, like Protagora s s and his followers as described in Plato's Protagoras (314 E, 315 e).
He means that the logical analysis of demonstration in the Analytics would teach them beforehand that there cannot be demonstration, though there must be induction, of an axiom, or any other principle; whereas, if they are not logically prepared for metaphysics, they will expect a demonstration of the axiom, as Heraclitus, the Heraclitean Cratylus and the Sophist Protagoras actually did, - and in vain.
He means that a sophist like Protagoras will teach superficially anything as wisdom for money; and that even a dialectician like Plato will write a dialogue, such as the Republic, nominally about justice, but really about all things from the generality of the form of good, instead of from appropriate moral principles; but that a primary philosopher selects as a definite subject all things as such without interfering with the special sciences of different things each in its kind (Met.
Between Leucippus and Democritus there is an interval of at least forty years; accordingly, while the beginnings of Atomism are closely connected with the doctrines of the Eleatics, the system as developed by Democritus is conditioned by the sophistical views of his time, especially those of Protagoras.
Sturt, 1902), in Humanism (1903), in which that term was proposed for the extensions of pragmatism, in Studies in Humanism (1907), and in Plato or Protagoras (1908).
Various anticipations of pragmatism in the history of philosophy are noted in Schiller's Plato or Protagoras ?
If, argued Protagoras in a treatise entitled Truth, all things are in flux, so that sensation is subjective, it follows that " Man is the measure of all things, of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not "; in other words, there is no such thing as objective truth.
Thus, whereas the representatives of the three successions had continued to regard themselves as philosophers or seekers after truth, Protagoras and Gorgias, plainly acknowledging their defeat, withdrew from the ungrateful struggle.
Accordingly Protagoras, while with the one hand he put away philosophy, with the other offered a substitute.
As instruments of education Protagoras used grammar, style, poetry and oratory.
Thus, whereas hitherto the young Greek, having completed his elementary training in the schools of the rypaµµaTcvTi s, the KtOapuTr s, and the 7rat orpi(3ns, was left to prepare himself for his life's work as best he might, by philosophical speculation, by artistic practice, or otherwise, one who passed from the elementary schools to the lecture-room of Protagoras received from him a " higher education."
The programme was exclusively literary, but for the moment it enabled Protagoras to satisfy the demand which he had discovered and evoked.
After Protagoras the most prominent of the literary sophists was Prodicus of Ceos.
Establishing himself at Athens, he taught virtue " or " excellence," in the sense attached to the word by Protagoras, partly by means of literary subjects, partly in discourses upon practical etlfics.
It is plain that Prodicus was an affected pedant; yet his simple conventional morality found favour, and Plato (Rep. 600 C) couples him with Protagoras in his testimony to the popularity of the sophists and their teaching.
At Athens, the centre of the intellectual life of Greece, there was soon to be found a host of sophists; some of them strangers, others citizens; some of them bred under Protagoras and Prodicus, others self-taught.
3 18 E) makes Protagoras pointedly refer to sophists who, " when young men have made their escape from the arts, plunge them once more into technical study, and teach them such subjects as arithmetic, astronomy, geometry and music."
The sophist of whom the Platonic Protagoras is here thinking was Hippias of Elis, who gave popular lectures, not only upon the four subjects just mentioned, but also upon grammar, mythology, family history, archaeology, Homerology and the education of youth.
In this polymath we see at once the degradation of the sophistry of culture and the link which connects Protagoras and Prodicus with the eristics, who at a later period taught, not, like Hippias, all branches of learning, but a universally applicable method of disputation.
That he should do so was only natural, since his position as a teacher of rhetoric was already secure when Protagoras made his first appearance in the character of a sophist; and, as Protagoras, Prodicus and the rest of the sophists of culture offered a comprehensive education, of which oratory formed only a part, whilst Gorgias made no pretence of teaching " civic excellence " (Plato, Meno, 95 C), and found a substitute for philosophy, not in literature generally, but in the professional study of rhetoric alone, it would have been convenient if the distinction between sophistry and rhetoric had been maintained.
But though, as will be seen hereafter, these two sorts of education were sometimes distinguished, Gorgias and those who succeeded him as teachers of rhetoric, such as Thrasymachus of Chalcedon and Polus of Agrigentum, were commonly called by the title which Protagoras had assumed and brought into familiar use.
It has been seen that the range of subjects recognized by Protagoras and Prodicus gradually extended itself, until Hippias professed himself a teacher of all branches of learning, including in his list subjects taught by artists and professional men, but handling them from a popular or non-professional point of view.
A foe to philosophy and a renegade from art, Socrates took his departure from the same point as Protagoras, and moved in the same direction, that of the education of youth.
The lively enthusiasm and the furious opposition which greeted Protagoras had now burnt themselves out, and before long the sophist was treated by the man of the world as a harmless, necessary pedagogue.
Thus the first and second definitions represent the founders of the sophistry of culture, Protagoras and Prodicus, from the respective points of view of the older Athenians, who disliked the new culture, and the younger Athenians, who admired it; the third and fourth definitions represent imitators to whom the note of itinerancy was not applicable; the fifth definition represents the earlier eristics, contemporaries of Socrates, whom it was necessary to distinguish from the teachers of forensic oratory; the sixth is framed to meet the anomalous case of Socrates, in whom many saw the typical sophist, though Plato conceives this view to be unfortunate; and the seventh and final definition, having in view eristical sophistry fully developed, distinguishes it from SfµoXoyuci, i.e.
- If then the sophists, from Protagoras to Isocrates, were before everything educators, it becomes necessary to inquire whether their labours marked or promoted an advance in educational theory and method.
That, whereas before the time of Protagoras there was little higher education in the colonies and less in central Greece, after his time attendance in the lecture-rooms of the sophists was the customary sequel to attendance in the elementary schools, is a fact which speaks for itself.
When Protagoras included in his course grammar, style, interpretation of the poets, and oratory, supplementing his own continuous expositions by disputations in which he and his pupils took part, he showed a not inadequate appreciation of the requisites of a literary education; and it may be conjectured that his comprehensive programme, which Prodicus and others extended, had something to do with the development of that versatility which was the most notable element in the Athenian character.
From the days of Protagoras, when this hostility was triumphant and contemptuous, to the days of Isocrates, when it was jealous and bitter, the sophists were declared and consistent sceptics.
But, although Protagoras and Gorgias had examined the teaching of their predecessors so far as to satisfy themselves of its futility and to draw the sceptical inference, their study of the great problem of the day was preliminary to their sophistry rather than a part of it; and, as the overthrow of philosophy was complete and the attractions of sophistry were all-powerful, the question " What is knowledge?
When Protagoras asserted " civic excellence " or " virtue " to be the end of educa-.
Overlooking the differences which separated the humanists from the eristics, and both of these from the rhetoricians, and taking no account of Socrates, whom they regarded as a philosopher, they forgot the services which Protagoras and Prodicus, Gorgias and Isocrates had rendered to education and to literature, and included the whole profession in an indiscriminate and contemptuous censure.
Neither were they united by a common educational method, the end and the instruments of education being diversely conceived by Protagoras, Gorgias and Isocrates, to say nothing of the wider differences which separate these three from the eristics, and all the four normal types from the abnormal type represented by Socrates.
Indeed, we have evidence of sound, if conventional, principle in Prodicus's apologue of the " Choice of Heracles," and of honourable, though eccentric, practice in the story of Protagoras's treatment of defaulting pupils.
Now it is true that before 447 B.C., besides the teachers of writing, gymnastics and music, to whom the young Greek resorted for elementary instruction, there were artists and artisans who not only practised their crafts, but also communicated them to apprentices and pupils, and that accordingly the Platonic Protagoras recognizes in the gymnast Iccus, the physician Herodicus, and the musicians Agathocles and Pythoclides, forerunners of the sophists.
Various as were the phases through which sophistry passed between the middle of the 5th century and the middle of the 4th, the sophists - Socrates himself being no exception - had in their declared antagonism to philosophy a common characteristic; and, if in the interval, philosophical speculation being temporarily suspended, scepticism ceased for the time to be peculiar, at the outset, when Protagoras and Gorgias broke with the physicists, and in the sequel, when Plato raised the cry of " back to Parmenides," this common characteristic was distinctive.
But the question still remains - Was the education provided by Protagoras, by Gorgias, by Isocrates, by the eristics and by Socrates, good, bad or indifferent?
Excellent as a statement of the aim and method of Isocrates, and tolerable as a statement of those of Gorgias, these phrases are inexact if applied to Protagoras, who, making " civic virtue " his aim, regarded statesmanship and administration as parts of " civic virtue ", and consequently assigned to oratory no more than a subordinate place in his programme, while to the eristics - whose existence is attested not only by Plato, but also by Isocrates and Aristotle - and to Socrates - whom Grote himself accounts a sophist - the description is plainly and palpably inappropriate.
It would seem, then, that, while he regards rhetoric as the function of normal sophistry, taking indifferently as his types Protagoras, Gorgias and Isocrates, he accounts Euthydemus and Dionysodorus (together with Socrates) as sophists, but as sophists of an abnormal sort, who may therefore be neglected.
In particular he allows that " there was at any rate enough of charlatanism in Protagoras and Hippias to prevent any ardour for their historical reputation," that the sophists generally " had in their lifetime more success than they deserved," that it was " antagonism to their teaching which developed the genius of Socrates," and, above all, that, " in his anxiety to do justice to the Sophist, Grote laid more stress than is at all necessary on the partisanship of Plato."
But more than this: whereas in the nomenclature of Plato's contemporaries Protagoras, Gorgias, Socrates, Dionysodorus and Isocrates were all of them sophists, Plato himself, in his careful investigation summarized above, limits the meaning of the term so that it shall include the humanists and the eristics only.
However contemptuous in his portraiture of Hippias and Dionysodorus, however severe in his polemic against Isocrates, Plato regards Protagoras with admiration and Gorgias with respect.
The sophist Protagoras had distinguished various kinds of sentences, and Plato had divided the sentence into noun and verb, signifying a thing and the action of a thing.
It is equally no accident that the name of Protagoras is to be connected, in Plato's view at least, with the rival school of Heracliteans.
The problems raised by the relativism of Protagoras are no less fundamentally problems of the nature of knowledge and of the structure of thought.
Like Protagoras, he professed to train his pupils for domestic and civic affairs; but it would appear that, while Protagoras's chief instruments of education were rhetoric and style, Prodicus made ethics prominent in his curriculum.
Protagoras, Phaedrus, Gorgias, Phaedo; (2) the second,, marked by dialectic subtlety, i.e.
Plato's Protagoras, 346 C), i.
92 B with Plato's Protagoras, 313).
This doubt found expression in the reasoned scepticism of Gorgias, and produced the famous proposition of Protagoras, that human apprehension is the only standard of existence.
Gorgias and Protagoras are only representatives of what was really a universal tendency to abandon dogmatic theory and take refuge in practical matters, and especially, as was natural in the Greek city-state, in the civic relations of the citizen.
Plato's Protagoras claims, not unjustly, that in teaching virtue they simply did systematically what every one else was doing at haphazard.
The first stage at which we can distinguish Plato's ethical view from that of Socrates is presented in the Protagoras, where he makes a serious, though clearly tentative effort to define the object of that knowledge which he with his master regards as the essence of all virtue.
After apparently maintaining (Protagoras) that pleasure is the good, he passes first to the opposite extreme, and denies it (Phaedo, Gorgias) to be a good at all.
also Plato in the Protagoras and Eudoxus) had already maintained that pleasure Epicurus.
These distinctions, he insists, have an objective reality, The cognizable by reason no less than the relations of Cambridge space or number; and he endeavours to refute moralists, Hobbism - which he treats as a " novantique philo- C d sophy," a mere revival of the relativism of Protagoras - chiefly by the following argumentum ad hominem.
But others were not slow to draw the obvious conclusions; and it may be conjectured that Gorgias's sceptical development of the Zenonian logic contributed, not less than Protagoras's sceptical development of the Ionian physics, to the diversion of the intellectual energies of Greece from the pursuit of truth to the pursuit of culture.
p. lxiii); Plato, Protagoras (329-330); Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, vi.
He addresses Protagoras ' view that whatever is apparent is true: An omne illud quod apparet sit?
Theodorus defends Protagoras's doctrine that Man is the Measure of All Things, which Socrates takes to imply relativism.
Pericles also incurred unpopularity because of his rationalism in religious matters; yet Athens in his time was becoming ripe for the new culture, and would have done better to receive it from men of his circle - Anaxagoras, Zeno, Protagoras and Meton - than from the more irresponsible sophists.
8, &c.; the very different representations in Plato's Protagoras and Theaetetus;, the fragments in Johannes Frei, Quaestiones Protagoreae (Bonn, 1845), and A.
It expressly refers itself to the maxim of Protagoras that "man is the measure of all things," and is best conceived as a protest against the assumption that logic can treat thought in abstraction from its psychological context and the personality of the knower, i.e.
Towards the middle of the 5th century, however, Protagoras of Abdera, taking account of the teaching of the first, and possibly of the second, of the physical successions, and Gorgias of Leontini, starting from the teaching of the metaphysical succession of Elea, drew that sceptical inference from which the philosophers had shrunk.
Thus the Protagoras brings the educational theory of Protagoras and the sophists of culture face to face with the educational theory of Socrates, so as to expose the limitations of both; the Gorgias deals with the moral aspect of the teachings of the forensic rhetorician Gorgias and the political rhetorician Isocrates, and the intellectual aspect of their respective theories of education is handled in the Phaedrus; the Meno on the one hand exhibits the strength and the weakness of the teaching of Socrates, and on the other brings into view the makeshift method of those who, despising systematic teaching, regarded the practical politician as the true educator; the Euthydemus has for its subject the eristical method; finally, having in these dialogues characterized the current theories of education, Plato proceeds in the Republic to develop an original scheme.
Regarding Protagoras, Gorgias and Isocrates as types of one and the same sophistry (pp. 4 8 7, 493, 495, 499, 544, 2nd ed.), and neglecting as slander or exaggeration all the evidence in regard to the sophistry of eristic (p. 540), he conceives that the sophists undertook " to educate young men so as to make them better qualified for statesmen or ministers," and that " that which stood most prominent in the teaching of Gorgias and the other sophists was, that they cultivated and improved the powers of public speaking in their pupils."
Theodorus defends Protagoras 's doctrine that Man is the Measure of All Things, which Socrates takes to imply relativism.
The word usage examples above have been gathered from various sources to reflect current and historial usage. They do not represent the opinions of YourDictionary.com.