Note 6 - So much for the nature philosophers...

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So much for the “nature philosophers” (Pre-Socratics). Where do we go next? To the Sophists But first some cultural, social and political background.
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Athens in the Fifth Century BCE The Athenian Parthenon, built in the fifth cent. BCE
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The “Glory Years” of Athens: 50 years 479 BCE: the end of the Persian wars. 429 BCE: the beginning of the Peloponnesian wars. 479–429: development of Athenian architecture, politics, military power, and literary excellence.
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The “Glory Years” of Athens: 50 years (continued) The Athenian democracy grows: private citizens come to have a voice in the political institutions. Many young men were being groomed for careers of political influence. In the law courts, both plaintiffs and defendants had to make their own speeches. What was needed was more education in general, and in particular proficiency in the art of public persuasive speaking!
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Enter the Sophists. The sophists as a group were teachers by profession who traveled from city to city to tutor young men from prominent families. They taught for a fee (sometimes exorbitant). They taught a variety of subjects: literary and linguistic studies, music theory, mathematics, etc. The subject in highest demand was rhetoric: “the art of persuasive speaking.” Can you guess why?
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Protagoras (c. 485 – c. 415 BCE) A very influential sophist, and much sought-after teacher. Socrates and Plato ( who are adamantly opposed to his ideas ) take him very seriously.
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Protagoras’ Basic Ideas: “A human being is the measure of all things—of things that are, that they are, and of things that are not, that they are not.” What does this mean? Reality and truth are relative
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This note was uploaded on 07/31/2008 for the course PHL 103 taught by Professor Zeyl during the Fall '08 term at Rhode Island.

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Note 6 - So much for the nature philosophers...

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