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(p.207) Conclusion
Sophistry and Political Philosophy
Robert C. Bartlett
University of Chicago Press

This chapter offers a synoptic view of Protagoras' moral-political teaching as well as of his theoretical stance, as these come to sight in the Protagoras and Theaetetus. After indicating the key features of his political teaching and the nature of the rhetoric he employs to convey it, the chapter considers Protagoras especially in contrast to Socrates. Where Socrates shows a keen interest in "dialectics," in the conversational scrutiny of ordinary moral opinion, Protagoras evinces a contempt for the views of "the many." This difference points in turn to the key differences between political philosophy, as Socrates came to live it, and sophistry. For whereas Protagoras adopted a radical relativism to deal in his way with the challenge of the prophets or diviners to any rational orientation, Socrates persisted in his conviction that this world is the proper home of the human mind and that philosophy, as knowledge of ignorance, remains the core of the life well lived.

Keywords:   rhetoric, sophistry, dialectics

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