Plato and Protagoras

Plato and Protagoras : Truth and Relativism in Ancient Greek Philosophy

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Are human beings antithetical in nature? Is there a radical difference between pleasure, efficiency, and moral good, or is the conflict only imaginary? These have traditionally been considered the central questions of Plato's most vivid dialogue, the Protagoras. Many interpreters have seen this dialogue as a confrontation between the moralist (Plato) and the relativist (Protagoras). This dichotomy is manifest when Plato and Protagoras discuss theoretical questions concerning either knowledge of facts or knowledge of values. Through a careful examination of the text, specifically of practical questions about values, Oded Balaban breaks with tradition by concluding that Plato and Protagoras do not exemplify characteristic moralism or relativism at all. He finds that the issue at the crux of the discussion is instead that of the criterion for knowledge and valuation; the Protagoras thus describes the search for a standard by which anything may be known and valued. Balaban applies the fundamental question of standards to that of the entire field of rhetoric: Should a discourse be short or long, simple or complex? What is the standard for conducting literary criticism? The author's revolutionary approach to the Protagoras also involves a study of the myth of Protagoras and situates the dialogue within its more

Product details

  • Hardback | 368 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 24mm | 608g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739100750
  • 9780739100752

About Oded Balaban

Oded Balaban is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Haifa. He is the author of Politics and Ideology: A Philosophical Approach (1995) and Subject and Consciousness: A Philosophical Inquiry into Self-Consciousness (1990).show more

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Abbreviations Chapter 2 Preface Chapter 3 Acknowledgments Chapter 4 Introduction Part 5 Part I: A Discussion of Interpretation in General Chapter 6 De Interpretatione Part 7 Part II: Plato's and Protagoras' General Assumptions Chapter 8 Exoteric and Esoteric Content and the Justification for Manipulative Thinking Chapter 9 Concerning Plato's Epistemological Presuppositions in General and Lying in Particular Chapter 10 Socrates and the Sophistic Movement Chapter 11 What Is Consciousness? Part 12 Part III: The Interpretation of the Protagoras Chapter 13 Introduction to the Dialogue Chapter 14 The Tale of Protagoras and Its Interpretation Chapter 15 Protagoras' Speech: Education or Instruction? Chapter 16 The Logical Grounds of the Protagoras-Socrates Disagreement Chapter 17 The Unity of Virtues Chapter 18 The Humorous Interlude-The Discussion about the Method of Discussion Chapter 19 The Critique of Simonides' Poem Chapter 20 Returning to the Unity of Virtues Chapter 21 The Theory of Measurement Part 22 Part IV: Extrapolations Chapter 23 Protagoras' and Plato's Approaches Compared Chapter 24 Protagoras' Relativism and the Failure to Synthesize Theory and Practice Chapter 25 Plato's Intellectualism and the Failure to Deduce Values from Knowledge Chapter 26 Appendix A: What Does "Man" Mean in Protagoras' "Man Is the Measure...?" Chapter 27 Appendix B: Critical Remarks on Some Interpretations of Plato's Self-Consciousness Chapter 28 Bibiography Chapter 29 Indexshow more

Review quote

This is an excellent treatment of the issues of truth and relativism as they are addressed in Plato's Protagoras. Although the level of sophistication in this discussion is high and the scholarship is thorough, this text is ... accessible to anyone doing advanced work in either philosophy or classical studies. Religious Studies Reviewshow more