The Sophists -|- Educational Philosophy Theory

The Sophists

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n traveling teachers and practical philosophers who earned a living teaching rhetoric (speech and clever argumentation) to men who wanted to get ahead

n focus on man (humanism), not on cosmology

n ethics - man’s end or goal is achieving pleasure (hedonism) and power

n (virtue in general - efficiency at a task, particularly the task of being human)

n man’s “virtue” (arete) are those things which lead to pleasure, namely cleverness, relativism, skill in arguing, etc. (Contrast with Socrates below.)

n Protagoras - “Man is the measure of all things.”

n truth is found on the level of sensation – what you sense is true for you

n civil law is merely custom; it is not rooted in God or nature (relativism)

n Gorgias - clever skepticism; claimed the following:

1. Nothing exists

2. If anything exists, we can’t know it

3. If we can know anything, we can’t communicate it

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