Wundervölker, Monstrosität und Hässlichkeit im Mittelalter (German Edition)

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For example, if a person is tall in relation to one object, he will be short in relation to another object. In so characterizing the phenomenal world, Plato certainly did not wish to be called eristic—he regarded the application of antilogic to the description of the phenomenal world as an essential preliminary to the search for the truth residing in the Platonic forms , which are themselves free from antilogic.

Seen in this perspective, the Sophistic use of antilogic must be judged less harshly. To the extent that it was used irresponsibly to secure success in debate it was eristic, and the temptation so to use it must often have arisen. But where it was invoked in the sincere belief that antilogic elements were indeed involved, or where it was used for analyzing a complex situation in order to reveal its complexity, then antilogic was in no way inconsistent with devotion to truth. This raises the question to what extent the Sophists possessed any general view of the world or gave expression to any genuine philosophical views, whether original or derived.

Ancient writers, influenced by Plato and Aristotle, seem to have excluded the Sophists, apart from Protagoras, from their schematized accounts of early Greek thinkers. Modern writers have frequently maintained that, whatever else they were, the Sophists were in no sense philosophers. Even those who acknowledge the philosophical interest of certain particular doctrines attributed to individual Sophists often tend to regard these as exceptions and claim that, inasmuch as the Sophists were not a school but only independent teachers and writers, as a class they were not philosophers.

Two questions are involved: whether the Sophists held common intellectual doctrines and whether some or all of these could actually be termed philosophical. Among moderns, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was one of the first to reinsert the Sophists into the history of Greek philosophy.

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He did so within the framework of his own dialectic , in which every thesis invokes its own opposite, or antithesis ; thus, he treated the Sophists as representing the antithesis to the thesis of the group of philosophers known collectively as the pre-Socratics. Pre-Socratics such as Thales , Heracleitus , and Parmenides sought the truth about the external world with a bold enthusiasm that produced a series of explanations, each claiming to be correct. None of these explanations of the physical world paid attention to the observer and each was driven to reject more and more of the phenomenal world itself as unreal.

Finally, with the Eleatics , a 5th-century school at Elea in Italy that held that reality is a static one, of which Parmenides and Zeno are representatives, little or nothing of the phenomenal world was left as real. This trend in turn produced a growing distrust of the power of human beings to attain knowledge of the ultimate basis of natural phenomena. Philosophy had reached an impasse, and there was a danger of complete skepticism. To Hegel, the Sophists were subjective idealists , holding that reality is only minds and their contents, and so philosophy could move forward by turning its attention to the subjective element in knowing.

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Whether any of the Sophists actually were subjective idealists may be doubted. The conclusion depends in part on whether Protagoras held that phenomena had subjective existence only, or whether he thought that all things perceived had objective existence but were perceived differently according to the nature of the percipient and their relation to him—i. It is fairly clear, however, that the Sophists did concentrate very largely upon human beings and human society, upon questions of words in their relations to things, upon issues in the theory of knowledge , and upon the importance of the observer and the subjective element in reality and in the correct understanding of reality.

This emphasis helps to explain the philosophical hostility of Plato and Aristotle. Particularly in the eyes of Plato, anyone who looks for the truth in phenomena alone, whether he interprets it subjectively or relativistically, cannot hope to find it there; and his persistence in turning away from the right direction virtually amounts to a rejection of philosophy and of the search for truth. Many a subsequent thinker for whom metaphysics , or the investigation of the deepest nature of reality, was the crowning achievement of philosophy has felt with Plato that the Sophists were so antimetaphysical that they have no claim to rank as philosophers.

But since the midth century there has been growing appreciation of a number of problems and doctrines recurring in the discussions of the Sophists in the 5th and 4th centuries bce. In the 18th and early 19th centuries the Sophists were considered charlatans. Their intellectual honesty was impugned, and their doctrines were blamed for weakening the moral fibre of Greece. The charge was based on two contentions , both correct: first, that many of the Sophists attacked the traditionally accepted moral code; and second, that they explored and even commended alternative approaches to morality that would condone or allow behaviour of a kind inadmissible under the stricter traditional code.

Much less weight is now attached to these charges. First, many of the attacks on the traditional morality were in the name of a new morality that claimed to be of greater validity. Attacks upon particular doctrines often claimed that accepted views should be abandoned as morally defective. Furthermore, even when socially disfavoured action seemed to be commended, this was frequently done to introduce a principle necessary in any satisfactory moral theory.

Finally, there is no evidence that any of the Sophists were personally immoral or that any of their pupils were induced to immoral actions by Sophistic teaching. The serious discussion of moral problems and the theory of morality tends to improve behaviour, not to corrupt it. It has usually been supposed that the writings themselves hardly survived beyond the period of Plato and Aristotle, but this view requires modification in the light of papyrus finds, admittedly few, that were copied from Sophistic writings in the early Common Era.

It also has been possible to identify in the works of later writers certain imitations or summaries of 5th-century Sophistic writers, whose names are unknown. This evidence suggests that while most later writers took their accounts of the Sophists from earlier writers, especially from Plato, the original writings did in many cases survive and were consulted. As part of his defense of the Sophists against the charge of immoral teachings, the English historian George Grote — maintained that they had nothing in common with each other except their profession, as paid teachers qualifying young men to think, speak, and act with credit to themselves as citizens.

This denial of common doctrines cannot be sustained—the evidence is against it.

While the Sophists were not a sect, with a set of obligatory beliefs or doctrines, they had a common interest in a whole series of questions to which they sought to apply solutions along certain clearly defined lines. There are great difficulties, however, in the precise reconstruction of individual Sophistic doctrines. No complete writings survive from any of the Sophists to check the accounts found in Plato, and later writers were often, but not always, dependent upon what they found in Plato.

Consequently, almost everything that is said about particular Sophistic doctrines is subject to controversy. Relativism and skepticism have often been regarded as common features of the Sophistic movement as a whole. But it was early pointed out that only in Protagoras and Gorgias is there any suggestion of a radical skepticism about the possibility of knowledge; and even in their case Sextus Empiricus, in his discussion of skepticism, is probably right when he declares that neither was really a skeptic.

Protagoras does seem to have restricted knowledge to sense experience, but he believed emphatically that whatever was perceived by the senses was certainly true. This led him to assert that the tangent does not touch the circle at a point only but along a definite length of the circumference; clearly he was referring to human perception of drawn tangents and circles. Gorgias, who claimed that nothing exists, or if it does exist it cannot be known, or if it exists and is knowable it cannot be communicated to another, has often been accused of denying all reality and all knowledge. Yet he also seems to have appealed in his very discussion of these themes to the certainty of perceived facts about the physical world; e.

Others dismiss his whole thesis as a satire or joke against philosophers. Probably neither view is correct. There is evidence that other Sophists e. The Sophists, in fact, were attempting to explain the phenomenal world without appealing to any principles outside phenomena. They believed that this could be done by including the observer within the phenomenal world.

Their refusal to go beyond phenomena was, for Plato, the great weakness in their thinking. A second common generalization about the Sophists has been that they represent a revolt against science and the study of the physical world. The evidence is against this, inasmuch as for Hippias, Prodicus, Gorgias, and Protagoras there are records of a definite interest in questions of this kind.

One of the most famous doctrines associated with the Sophistic movement was the opposition between nature and custom or convention in morals. It is probable that the antithesis did not originate in Sophistic circles but was rather earlier; but it was clearly very popular and figured largely in Sophistic discussions. The commonest form of the doctrine involved an appeal from conventional laws to supposedly higher laws based on nature.

Sometimes these higher laws were invoked to remedy defects in actual laws and to impose more stringent obligations; but usually it was in order to free the individual from restrictions unjustifiably imposed by human laws that the appeal to nature was made. In its extreme form the appeal involved the throwing off of all restraints upon self-interest and the desires of the individual e.

On other occasions the terms of the antithesis were reversed and human laws were explicitly acclaimed as superior to the laws of nature and as representing progress achieved by human endeavour. In all cases the laws of nature were regarded not as generalized descriptions of what actually happens in the natural world and so not like the laws of physics to which no exceptions are possible but rather as norms that people ought to follow but are free to ignore.

Thus, the appeal to nature tended to mean an appeal to human nature treated as a source for norms of conduct. See also natural law. To Greeks this appeal was not very novel. It represented a conscious probing and exploration into an area wherein, according to their whole tradition of thought, lay the true source for norms of conduct.

Both Plato and Aristotle , in basing so much of their ethics on human nature, are only following up the approach begun by the Sophists. The Sophists have sometimes been characterized by their attacks on the traditional religious beliefs of the Greeks see Greek religion. It is true that more than one Sophist seems to have faced prosecution for impiety, as did Socrates also.

Rhetoric and Social Media

Critias went further when he supposed that the gods were deliberately invented to inspire fear in the evildoer. It is thus probably correct to say that the tendency of much Sophistic thought was to reject the traditional doctrines about the gods. Indeed, this follows almost inevitably if the supposition is correct that all the Sophists were attempting to explain the phenomenal world from within itself, while excluding all principles or entities not discernible in phenomena. But in their agnostic attitudes toward the Olympian deities, the Sophists were probably at one with most of the pre-Socratic philosophers of the 6th and 5th centuries and also with most thinking people living toward the end of the 5th century.

It is thus probably misleading to regard them as revolutionary in their religious beliefs. The importance the Sophists attached to human beings meant that they were extremely interested in the history and organization of human societies. Here again most is known about Protagoras, and there is a danger of treating his particular doctrines as typical of the Sophistic movement as a whole. In the 5th century, human history was very commonly seen in terms of a decline from an earlier golden age. Another view supposed that there were recurring cycles in human affairs according to which a progression from good to bad would give way to one from bad to good.

Science Of Persuasion

The typical Sophistic attitude toward society rejected both of these views in favour of one that saw human history in terms of progress from savagery to civilization. In a famous myth , Protagoras explained how humans achieved civilized society first with the aid of arts and crafts and then by gaining a sense of respect and justice in the ordering of their affairs.

The general thinking of most of the Sophists seems to have been along similar lines. Moreover, what can be taught has some relation to what can be known and understood. The belief that teaching of a high intellectual calibre could produce success both for the individual and for governments has had a profound influence upon the subsequent history of education.

Once again, it is through the acceptance of this doctrine by Plato and Aristotle that the Sophistic position came to be part of subsequent humanist tradition. Greek literature underwent a period of eclipse during the 1st century bce and under the early Roman Empire. But Roman dominance did not prevent a growing interest in sophistic oratory in the Greek-speaking world during the 1st century ce. This oratory aimed merely at instructing or interesting an audience and had of necessity no political function.

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Arguing and Thinking: A Rhetorical Approach to Social Psychology - Michael Billig - Google книги

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The Greeks both prized and despised it. Plato gave the Sophists and rhetoricians a bad name which has endured for two and a half millennia, yet rhetoric has been part of any standard curriculum in the West for much of that time. It is well known that there is a vast difference between the truth of an argument and its persuasive power. Lawyers have always been suspect: they say whatever they need in order to win. All of America thought that O.

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Simpson murdered his wife, but skillful rhetoric by his attorney Johnnie Cochran got him acquitted.