ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Greek Philosopher: Protagoras

Updated on April 2, 2009

Protagoras

The most famous Greek philosopher before Socrates, who was a younger contemporary.

Protagoras sought to teach men virtue in their daily lives, and summed up the basis of his own philosophy in the maxin 'Man is the measure of all things'. He lived at the beginning of the 4th century BC incurred much hostility by denying the story of the "Gods".

480 - 411 BC

Greek philosopher, born in Abdera, Thace. About 445 BC he went to Athens, where he became a friend of the statesman Pericles and won great fame as a teacher and philosopher.

Protagoras was the first thinker to call himself a sophist and to teach for pay, receiving large sums from his pupils. He gave instruction in grammar, rhetoric, and the interpretation of poetry.

His chief works, of which only a few fragments have survived, were entitled Truth and On the Gods. The basis of his speculation was the doctrine that nothing is absolutely good or bad, true or false, and that each individual is therefore his own final authority; this belief is summed up in his saying: "Man is the measure of all things".

Charged with impiety, Protagoras fled into exile; though he drowned on his way to Sicily.

Two celebrated dialogues, the Theaetetus and the Protagoras, by the philosopher Plato, are devoted to the refutation of his doctrines.

Sophists

Originally a name applied by the ancient Greeks to learned men, such as the Seven Wise Men of Greece. Sophist meant: expert, master, craftsman, man of wisdom. In the 5th century BC the name applied to teachers who journeyed and provided instruction in several higher branches of learning for a fee in their travels.

Individuals sharing a broad philosophic outlook rather than a school, the Sophists popularized the ideas of various early philosophers; but based on their understanding of this proper philosophic thought, most of them concluded that truth and morality were essentially matters of opinion. Thus, in their own teaching, they tended to emphasize forms of persuasive expression, such as the art of rhetoric, which provided pupils with skills useful for achieving success in life, particularly public life.

Sophists were quite popular for a time, especially in Athens, however their skeptical views on absolute truth and morality eventually provoked sharp criticism. The Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle each challenged the philosophic basis of the Sophists' teaching. Plato and Aristotle further condemned them for taking money.

Later, they were accused by the state of lacking morality. As a result, the word "sophist" acquired a derogatory meaning as in the modern terms "sophistry" (subtle and deceptive or false argumentation or reasoning).

The Sophists were of minor importance in the development of Western philosophic thought. They were, however, the first to systematize education. Leading 5th-century Sophists included Protagoras, Gorgias, Hippias of Elis and Prodicus of Ceos.

References

  • Library of Essential Knowledge, Volume 2, Readers Digest, 1980
  • Pears Cyclopaedia, Twenty-Ninth Edition, 1926
  • New Encyclopedia, Volume 19, 1971, Funk & Wagnalls

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      D. Socrates Carlon 

      7 years ago

      I highly agree with Protagoras’ principle that life is a state of perpetual change and fire or war being the originator of this change. Not the ordinary fire or war that we know about. I think the philosopher was talking about conflict, disappointment, deception etc. This view is a perfect reality of the world in which we live today.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)