Protagoras and Logos: A Study in Greek Philosophy and Rhetoric

Protagoras and Logos: A Study in Greek Philosophy and Rhetoric

Protagoras and Logos: A Study in Greek Philosophy and Rhetoric

Protagoras and Logos: A Study in Greek Philosophy and Rhetoric

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

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 suggestions for revisions.

The changes in the book from the first edition can be described as follows. First, I have corrected errors in translation that slipped through the first time and made minor wording changes to claims in the first edition that were unclear or misleading. Second, in my discussion of different research approaches to the Sophists, I have replaced the phrase “rational reconstruction” with “contemporary appropriation”—a phrase somewhat less likely to be misunderstood. Third, I have added an afterword that addresses certain historiographical issues that have been a persistent source of discussion among scholars in rhetorical studies over the past decade.

Although I have not attempted to incorporate all of the scholarship on Protagoras that has appeared since the first edition, I have incorporated into the footnotes of each chapter references to work that has altered or clarified my views on Protagoras and the Sophists. I want to take this opportunity to draw the reader’s attention to work that resonates with this project. The same year in which this book originally appeared also saw the publication of Thomas Cole’s important book The Origins of Rhetoric (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991). While I do not agree with Cole’s attempt to elide the distinction between rhetorical theory and practice, there is much in his book that has encouraged scholars to reconsider the role of the Sophists in early rhetorical theory. I am particularly Preface to the Second Edition . . .

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