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Protagoras and Logos

A Study in Greek Philosophy and Rhetoric

Edward Schiappa

Publication Year: 2013

Protagoras and Logos brings together in a meaningful synthesis the contributions and rhetoric of the first and most famous of the Older Sophists, Protagoras of Abdera. Most accounts of Protagoras rely on the somewhat hostile reports of Plato and Aristotle. By focusing on Protagoras's own surviving words, this study corrects many long-standing misinterpretations and presents significant facts: Protagoras was a first-rate philosophical thinker who positively influenced the theories of Plato and Aristotle, and Protagoras pioneered the study of language and was the first theorist of rhetoric. In addition to illustrating valuable methods of translating and reading fifth-century B.C.E. Greek passages, the book marshals evidence for the important philological conclusion that the Greek word translated as rhetoric was a coinage by Plato in the early fourth century. In this second edition, Edward Schiappa reassesses the philosophical and pedagogical contributions of Protagoras. Schiappa argues that traditional accounts of Protagoras are hampered by mistaken assumptions about the Sophists and the teaching of the art of rhetoric in the fifth century. He shows that, contrary to tradition, the so-called Older Sophists investigated and taught the skills of logos, which is closer to modern conceptions of critical reasoning than of persuasive oratory. Schiappa also offers interpretations for each of Protagoras's major surviving fragments and examines Protagoras's contributions to the theory and practice of Greek education, politics, and philosophy. In a new afterword Schiappa addresses historiographical issues that have occupied scholars in rhetorical studies over the past ten years, and throughout the study he provides references to scholarship from the last decade that has refined his views on Protagoras and other Sophists.

Published by: University of South Carolina Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

CONTENTS

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pp. vii-ix

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PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION

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pp. x-xi

I begin by expressing my gratitude to the University of South Carolina Press for publishing this revised edition of Protagoras and Logos. My sincere thanks to Tom Benson and Barry Blose for their support of this project, and to Wilfred E. Major and John T. Kirby for their helpful sug ...

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PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION

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pp. xii-13

A new full-length study of Protagoras and his contribution to early Greek thought is long overdue. Although there is a sizable amount of excellent scholarship concerning Protagoras, much of it tends to be hobbled by one or more problems. Many studies begin with such hostile assumptions about the Sophists that a reasonably productive picture of Protago ...

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. xiii-xiv

The following study began as my doctoral dissertation at Northwestern University. I wish to thank Leland M. Griffin for chairing my committee and for providing needed encouragement. Thanks also to Michael J. Hyde, Charles Kauffman, and David Zarefsky for serving on my committee and providing challenging and beneficial feedback. The first section of chapter...

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TRANSLATIONS AND ABBREVIATIONS

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pp. xv-19

Unless otherwise noted, English translations of Greek authors are from the following sources: for Plato, Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns, The Collected Dialogues of Plato (Princeton University Press, 1961); for Aristotle, Jonathan Barnes, The Complete Works of Aristotle, 2 vols. (Princeton University Press, 1984); for other ancient authors, see the ...

PART I PROLEGOMENON TO THE STUDY OF EARLY GREEK RHETORICAL THEORY

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pp. 1-21

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1 WHY A STUDY OF PROTAGORAS?

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pp. 3-19

An important part of comprehending the place of Protagoras, the first and most influential of the Older Sophists, is understanding how the profession he helped to spawn was perceived in ancient Greek thought and in subsequent histories of thought. So many of the issues concerning the Sophists are shrouded in controversy that it is difficult even to begin ...

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2 INTERPRETING ANCIENT FRAGMENTS

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pp. 20-38

Plucked out of context and dropped into the twentieth century, the few extant lines by Protagoras appear trivial if not nonsensical. Not only are there pitifully few statements attributed to Protagoras, but much of what is available has been filtered through sources not altogether friendly to Protagoras' project.1 T. A. Sinclair, deploring the scanty remains of ...

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3 THE "INVENTION" OF RHETORIC

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pp. 39-63

One of the objectives of this book is to identify Protagoras' contribu tions to fifth-century rhetorical theory and practice. Before those contributions can be recovered, a certain amount of ground-clearing is neces sary. Most scholarship concerning sophistic rhetoric is informed by what has become the "standard account" of the early history of rhetorical ...

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4 TOWARD AN UNDERSTANDING OF SOPHISTIC THEORIES OF RHETORIC

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pp. 64-86

Even though the available evidence suggests that the Sophists did not use the term rhetorike to describe their teachings, a recovery of their ideas about rhetorical theory is both possible and desirable. It is possible because the fifth-century Sophists' logos was an obvious predecessor to (even if it cannot be limited to} fourth-century rhetoreia and rhetorike. ...

PART IIANALYSIS OF THE MAJORFRAGMENTSOFPROTAGORAS

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pp. 87-107

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5 THE TWO-LOGO! FRAGMENT

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pp. 89-102

...statement in the same way Protagoras' human-measure or "concerning the gods" statements are quoted. Nevertheless, I think there are good reasons to treat Diogenes Laertius' words as faithful to Protagoras' original ideas. Accordingly, I will follow the convention of referring to the statement as one of Protagoras...

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6 THE "STRONGER AND WEAKER "LOGO! FRAGMENT

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pp. 103-116

...Heracliteanpositive (hereafter "positive") interpretation. The most perverse version of the fragment appears in Lane Cooper's translation: "making the worse appear the better cause."1 So interpreted, there are few better examples of what it means to be an unscrupulous rhetorician. In fact, the phrase has achieved that dubious status of a popular slogan allegedly....

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7 THE "HUMAN-MEASURE" FRAGMENT

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pp. 117-133

...Of extant fragments by Older Sophists, perhaps none is as important and as difficult to interpret and understand as Protagoras' human-measure fragment. Modern commentators have described the statement as being the heart and soul of the sophistic movement, and one poet went so far as to say...

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8 THE "IMPOSSIBLE TO CONTRADICT" FRAGMENT

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pp. 134-140

Unlike the fragments I have already examined, there is nowhere a passage that represents the "impossible to contradict" statement un equivocally as Protagoras' original words. However, some combination of the words occur sufficiently often in ancient discussions of Protagoras to convince most scholars that it was part of his philosophy. What is ...

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9 THE "CONCERNING THE GODS" FRAGMENT

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pp. 141-154

...reading is very common and is even accepted by Kahn: "Concerning the gods I am unable to know, whether they exist or whether they do not exist or what they are like in form."1 Since Kahn's extensive study of the Greek verb "to be" has proved influential, I repeat his discussion of the first sentence...

PART III PROTAGORAS AND EARLY GREEK PHILOSOPHY AND RHETORIC

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pp. 155-175

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10 PROTAGORAS AND FIFTH-CENTURY EDUCATION

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pp. 157-174

Clear-cut conceptual categories such as political theory, ethics, educational philosophy, and rhetorical theory were nascent at best in the mid-fifth century. Though any scholarly analysis of fifth-century thinking is bound to engage in a certain amount of over simplification, it is possible to minimize the risk of misreading Protagoras' words. In such ...

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11 PROTAGORAS, LOGOS ,AND THE POLIS

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pp. 175-189

I turn now to Protagoras' theory of logos and its implications for social-political theory. It has long been recognized that Protagoras' hu man-measure fragment presented a viewpoint supportive of Periclean democracy, but the political implications of Protagoras' general views On one level or another, significant philosophical disourse always ...

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12 PROTAGORAS "VERSUS" PLATO AND ARISTOTLE

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pp. 190-196

The long-standing tradition is that the paucity of extant fragments by Protagoras is due in large measure to the treatment his teachings received by Plato and Aristotle. There is both truth and falsity in this tradition. It is true that the neglect of the Sophists' writings by members of Aristotle's Lyceum contributed to the loss of those writings. It is also ...

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13 PROTAGORAS' LEGACY TO RHETORICAL THEORY

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pp. 197-204

This chapter will pull together some of the arguments offered in previous chapters in order to summarize Protagoras' contributions to rhetorical theory.1 My objective is to identify those aspects of his theory and practice that functioned paradigmatically, i.e., as exemplars or "shared examples" for imitation and development.2 To begin with, Protagoras ...

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AFTERWORD

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pp. 205-216

It has been over a decade since publications by Thomas Cole (The Origins of Rhetoric in Ancient Greece) and myself challenged assumptions that informed traditional and revisionist accounts of "sophistic rhetoric." Traditional accounts, largely based on Plato's unflattering portrayals of fifth and fourth century BCE Sophists, had reduced the historical role of ...

APPENDIX A

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pp. 217-218

APPENDIX B

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pp. 219-225

APPENDIXC

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pp. 226-229

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 230-246

INDEX

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pp. 247-251


E-ISBN-13: 9781611171815
Print-ISBN-13: 9781570035210

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Studies in Rhetoric/Communication

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Subject Headings

  • Protagoras.
  • Rhetoric, Ancient.
  • Rhetoric -- Philosophy.
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