Protagoras (Plato)

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The beginning of Protagoras in the oldest surviving medieval manuscript, the Codex Clarkianus written in 895 (Oxford, Bodleian Library , Clarke 39)

The Protagoras ( ancient Greek Πρωταγόρας Prōtagóras ) is a work of the Greek philosopher Plato written in dialogue form . A fictional conversation between Plato's teacher Socrates and the sophist Protagoras , who came to Athens as a teacher , is reproduced . Protagoras claims to be able to impart the ability to perform successfully. Minor characters in the dialogue are the rich Callias as host of Protagoras, the sophist Hippias von Elis , the rhetoric teacher Prodikos von Keos , the distinguished Athenians Alcibiades and Critias , who later became influential as politicians, and a young acquaintance of Socrates named Hippocrates. The discussion revolves primarily around the core issues of Platonic ethics : the theory of action and the question of whether aretḗ (excellence, efficiency, virtue) is teachable knowledge.

The dialogue is embedded in a framework plot: Socrates tells how he went to Protagoras and involved him in a dispute. The occasion and background was the intention of Hippocrates to become a paying student of the Sophist. Socrates thought nothing of that. As a sharp opponent of sophistry, he tried to destroy the fascination that emanated from the fame of Protagoras in the debate. With this he wanted to dissuade the listening Hippocrates from his plan.

In front of a large crowd of listeners, Protagoras explained the purpose and aim of the sophistic teaching: It generally makes you a better person and, in particular, achieves political assertiveness. The claim that sophistic training produces virtuous people and capable citizens, was countered by Socrates with the argument that in practice there was no successful teaching of this kind in Athens. Furthermore, the two opponents argued over the question of whether the various virtues are independent qualities, which can appear separately, or just aspects of a unified phenomenon of virtue that is present or absent as a whole.

One of the main concerns of Socrates was the presentation and justification of his theory of action. He convinced those present of his thesis that all human actions without exception are guided by the pursuit of something good. Nobody wants to do bad things. Therefore, there is no willful wrongdoing, only misguided good intentions. The ethically reprehensible is always due to ignorance.

The Protagoras is one of Plato's early writings and is considered a literary masterpiece. In the more recent philosophical discourse, the problem of the “ weak will” ( akrasía ), which is fundamentally contested in the dialogue, receives a lot of attention. It is about acting against a judgment of the agent, according to which other behavior is possible and would be better. We examine the problem of a decision in which one disregards the result of one's own considerations, although one assumes that this will lead to predominantly harmful consequences.

Places and time

Socrates (Roman bust, 1st century, Louvre , Paris)

The framework conversation in which Socrates reports on his experiences takes place at an unspecified location in his home town of Athens. He tells a friend ( hetairos "companions") and a group of other people present how his encounter with the famous teacher Protagoras went on the same day.

The sequence of events that Socrates describes began before dawn in his home. There Hippocrates went to see him to talk to him about Protagoras. At first the two talked for a while in the courtyard until it got light. Then they went together to the house of Protagoras' host, Callias, which was a popular meeting place for local and foreign intellectuals. There they met Protagoras and many of their friends. In the inner courtyard of the house, Socrates opened the debate with Protagoras; the large number of people present gave it a public atmosphere.

The point in time of the fictitious conversation can be determined fairly precisely, although certain inconsistencies must be accepted. The chronologically relevant information in the dialogue is partly contradictory, because Plato, as in other works, did not pay attention to historical correctness, but made use of his literary freedom of design. Since the 469 BC Socrates born in BC is still relatively young and probably 451 BC. Born Alcibiades who first grew a beard, it is usually around 433/432 BC. Assumed BC, so a point in time before the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War . The statesman Pericles and his sons, who died in 429 BC. Died of the plague, are still alive. Two less important indications could speak in favor of a later dating, but are considered to be insignificant anachronisms : The host Kallias already appears as the master of the house, so his father Hipponikos, who only died after the mid-420s, is probably no longer alive and not until 420 The Pherekrates comedy Agrioi (“The Wild”) is mentioned in the conversation: Protagoras says it was rehearsed the previous year.

The interlocutors

Socrates is the dominant figure here, as in Plato's other early works. With his fundamental criticism of the sophistic claim to competence for imparting teachable ability, he represents one of Plato's main concerns. The attitude of this dialogue figure essentially corresponds to that of the author and probably roughly corresponds to the attitude of the historical Socrates. In particular, ethical intellectualism , the denial of the possibility of voluntarily reprehensible action against better judgment, probably belonged to the core of the convictions of historical Socrates. However, not everything that the dialogue figure puts forward should simply be counted as part of the authentic philosophy of its historical model; the literary character of the work hardly allows reliable conclusions to be drawn about the historical reality. Many details of the carefully elaborated presentation show that Plato wanted to glorify his teacher as an exemplary man, advisor and thinker in word and deed. To this end, he showed the reader the modesty and clarity of Socrates and his real concern for the spiritual well-being of the young Hippocrates. He contrasted this philosophical attitude with the cocky demeanor and ill-conceived world and human image of the vain and enterprising sophist Protagoras.

In relation to the young Hippocrates, Socrates appears as an older confidant. Apparently, however, he does not yet have a great deal of life experience because he suggests consulting mature men “who are older than us”; he and Hippocrates are still too young to make a serious decision on their own. This fits Protagoras' remark that he could well imagine that Socrates would one day be one of the famous wise men. From the point of view of the sophist, Socrates belongs to the promising offspring of the educated class of Athens.

The historical Protagoras was one of the most famous personalities of the intellectual life of his epoch. He came from Abdera and was probably around 490 BC. Born in BC. His education was exceptional, if, in Plato's judgment, superficial. At the time of the fictional dialogue, he was already at an advanced age; According to the words which Plato puts in his mouth, all the others present could be his children. At that time he was at the height of his fame and professional success. As a traveling teacher he moved around Greece and earned a high income from his lessons. He had visited Athens earlier and evidently caused a sensation because his renewed presence was now the talk of the town, according to Plato's description. His educational offer exerted a strong fascination on the ambitious, aspiring youth of the Athenian upper class. Plato's description of Hippocrates' enthusiasm for sophistic knowledge gives an impressive picture of this effect of his appearance. Since Plato, with his literary creative power, lets him appear in an unfavorable light, caution is advised when drawing conclusions from the dialogue figure to the historical person. The lecture on the origin of civilization that Protagoras holds in dialogue is perhaps based on one of the writings that the historical sophist is said to have written; His treatises “On the Original State” and “On the State” come into consideration. Otherwise nothing is known of the content of these badly attested works.

Although Socrates and Protagoras agree on some points, they never reach a deeper understanding because their ways of thinking and approaching are fundamentally different. The Protagoras approach is pragmatic: He wants to solve problems “technically” and convince others of the advantages of his solutions with rhetorical means. He is interested in knowing how to achieve certain goals. Socrates, on the other hand, asks about truth; the philosophical knowledge he seeks is of a different kind from the enforcement knowledge that Protagoras aims at.

Like Protagoras, the historical Hippias of Elis was a foreign sophist who only stayed temporarily in Athens. He served as envoy for his home town of Elis . In Plato's dialogue Hippias minor he is portrayed as a show-off who has an impressive wealth of learned, superficial knowledge and is admired for it, but fails miserably in a serious debate aimed at real understanding. In the Protagoras , Hippias is one of the prominent foreign guests of the Callias, he acts as a teacher and answers natural history questions from his audience. He would like to spread his literary knowledge in an artful speech in the Socrates discussion group, but he does not get the opportunity to do so. In the dispute between Socrates and Protagoras, he tries to mediate. He does not argue philosophically, but like a diplomat.

The historical Prodikos von Keos was also a traveling teacher who went from town to town and gave lessons. With this he accumulated a fortune according to Plato's account. His specialty was the precise analysis of word meanings. As a figure in Protagoras , he makes a strange, unfavorable impression: Wrapped in many blankets and furs, he lectures his listeners lying down. Socrates ironically praises him as “all-wise and divine”, consults him on questions of definition and describes himself as his pupil, but does not seem to take him very seriously.

Historical Callias was considered the richest Athenian because he had inherited the huge fortune of his father Hipponikos. He played an important role in the cultural scene and was also politically active. In Plato he is described as a zealous promoter of the sophistic educational endeavors; in his house he accommodates prominent foreign sophists who gather their devoutly listening audience there. To do this, he even converted a pantry into a classroom. He not only values ​​the sophists, but also their distinguished opponent Socrates. The argument between Socrates and Protagoras gives him particular pleasure; so he insists that it should not be broken off and holds Socrates to prevent him from going away.

Alcibiades, who later became a famous and controversial politician, is still a young man as a figure in Protagoras . The homoerotic Socrates was deeply impressed by his extraordinary beauty. In dialogue he repeatedly takes sides with Socrates, especially in a critical situation when an apparently unbridgeable difference of opinion threatens to break off the debate.

The earliest around 460 BC. Critias, born in BC, who is called "Kritias IV." In the research literature, was a cousin of Plato's mother Periktione . He came from an elegant and wealthy family and was active as a poet, but at the time of the dialogue he was not yet one of the influential personalities of Athens. He later became a well-known politician and was one of the most prominent representatives of the oligarchic direction. During the short-lived " Rule of the Thirty " (404–403 BC) he was a leading member of the thirty-member council of oligarchs that ruled Athens. In Protagoras he only takes the floor briefly, in the dispute between Socrates and Protagoras he emphasizes his neutrality.

Hippocrates is the only participant in the conversation whose existence outside of Protagoras is not attested. But since the names of his father Apollodorus and his brother Phason are mentioned in the dialogue, it can be assumed that he, like the other participants, is a historical figure. His family is described as wealthy and important by Socrates, who introduces him to Protagoras. One research hypothesis suggests that he was a nephew of the famous statesman Pericles.

As a dialogue figure, Hippocrates is young, impulsive, naive, enthusiastic and ambitious. He represents the Athenian upper class and has adopted their values ​​uncritically. He sees the key to reputation and social success in the sophistic speaker training. On the other hand, he is also under the influence of Socrates, whom he trusts and whom he values ​​as an adviser. He listens in silence to the debate between Socrates and Protagoras that takes place on his behalf. Finally he leaves the scene with Socrates, so he gives up his intention to become a pupil of Protagoras. Although he would like to benefit from sophistry, he cannot imagine becoming a sophist himself, because that would be improper for him as a noble Athenian and a social decline. This shows the dichotomy of the relationship between the upper class and the sophists.


Framework, history and dialogue scenery

Socrates tells a friend that he has just met Protagoras, who has been in Athens for two days. He calls Protagoras the wisest among the people currently alive, but adds ironically "if Protagoras seems to you to be the wisest". Curiously, the friend asks him to report what happened at the meeting. Socrates willingly describes to his friend and a group of other people how the conversation with the foreign teacher went.

Last night, young Hippocrates came to Socrates' house well before daybreak and vigorously asked to be admitted, although the host had not yet got up. He wanted to tell the philosopher the news that Protagoras had arrived in Athens. Socrates, who already knew, was not impressed. Hippocrates impetuously suggested that they go straight to the sophist who lived with Callias. He hoped to be accepted as a pupil by Protagoras. Without hesitation, he was ready to pay any required fee in order to learn “wisdom” from the foreign teacher, whom he did not yet know. If necessary, he would even spend his friends' fortunes on it. But since he feared that he would be rejected because of his youth, he asked Socrates to put in a good word for him. When Hippocrates insisted on leaving immediately, he did not notice in his zeal that it was still too early because the day had not yet dawned.

At Socrates' suggestion, the two first went for a walk in the courtyard. The philosopher used this opportunity to demonstrate to the young hot spur the dubiousness of a naive enthusiasm for a stranger. When asked what the project was actually aimed at, he made him think. Hippocrates was embarrassed. He had to admit that he was striving for sophistic training at all costs, although he had not really understood the purpose of such teaching. Socrates pointed out to him that sophists sold goods of knowledge as nourishment for the soul, just as market traders sold food as nourishment for the body. The digestibility of food and drinks can be determined with the help of a nutritionist; Food for the soul, on the other hand, is taken in without first being made aware of its harmfulness or usefulness.

After this warning to be prudent, the two set off. At Kallias they met his guests Protagoras, Hippias and Prodikos. Each of the three prominent teachers was surrounded by a crowd of eager students to whom he taught all kinds of knowledge. Now Alcibiades and Critias also arrived. Socrates presented the concerns of Hippocrates to Protagoras. This gave him an opportunity to talk about the usefulness of the class. The vain sophist was happy to take up Socrates' suggestion to invite Prodikos and Hippias and their students to listen. So a large audience gathered to hear his statements.

The subject of sophistic teaching

In the following, the course of the controversy between Socrates and Protagoras is detailed. Socrates wants to learn from the sophist how Hippocrates can benefit from the instruction he desires. Protagoras assures us that one of his students makes progress every day. Socrates, who finds this trivial, asks what exactly these advances consist of. Protagoras then distinguishes himself from the other sophists and accuses them of only imparting specialist knowledge. On the other hand, he enables his students to plan their lives sensibly, to regulate their private affairs well and also to speak and act skillfully in politics. So let him make them capable citizens.

Socrates opposes this promise with his skepticism. He expresses fundamental doubts about the teachability of civic and general human excellence. In support of this, he argues that there is a tacit general consensus that there is no political competence that can be acquired like specialist knowledge. This can be seen from the fact that at the popular assemblies in the democratically governed Athens everyone is allowed to have a say on the affairs of the state administration and influence the formation of opinion without having to prove any qualifications. On the other hand, when it comes to technical questions, such as shipbuilding, only the expertise of appropriately trained specialists is required. Thus, there is no special political qualification that can be obtained through special training. It is the same in the private sector. Eminent men like Pericles, the leading statesman of Athens, are unable to teach their children the special skills they themselves have, or to find teachers who can do the job. Hence, virtue or ability does not seem to be teachable. If Protagoras can show the opposite, he should do so.

The Lecture of Protagoras

Protagoras is now giving a lecture, which he introduces with a myth about the origin of earthly creatures and civilization. After the gods had created mortal beings, they commissioned two titans , the brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus , to give the creatures the appropriate means of supporting life. Epimetheus wanted to do the job alone. He endowed the individual animal species with qualities such as speed, ability to defend themselves or great fertility in order to ensure the survival of the species in the struggle for existence. He protected them against bad weather with thick hair and firm skin. He provided some with hooves, others with wings. He procured suitable food for each species. But since he was not particularly careful, he forgot the endowment of the human race. Therefore, by nature, people remained naked, barefoot and defenseless. When Prometheus saw this, he stole the fire that was supposed to be reserved for the gods and brought it to the people. He also gave them the technical knowledge of the deities Hephaestus and Athena . This is how mankind acquired the means and skills it needed to survive. But what it still lacked was the art of politics, the knowledge required for successful state formation. This was in the care of Zeus, the father of the gods, and was not accessible to Prometheus.

It turned out that the scattered people were no match for the animal world. Therefore they banded together in settlements. However, all attempts at community building failed because of the conflicts that broke out because of a lack of social skills. Under these circumstances, the end of mankind threatened. Zeus therefore sent Hermes, the messenger of the gods, and instructed him to instill legal awareness and a social conscience in people. In contrast to specialist knowledge, insight into the requirements of living together should be given to everyone, since everyone needs it for his or her role as a citizen. So it happened. That is why since then people have been convinced that everyone must be fair and socially competent. Even an unrighteous man has to pretend to be just; if he openly confesses to being unjust, he will be declared insane.

However, fair and social behavior is not innate; it must be learned. You have to make an effort. That this fact is generally understood can be seen from the fact that congenital or fate-related defects are not blamed for their bearers, while immoral behavior triggers outbursts of anger, reprimands and punishments. Thus, everyone is aware that civic virtue can be learned and that everyone is obliged to make an effort to achieve it. The fact that punishments serve the purpose of deterrence also proves that being good is generally regarded as something that can be acquired and which has to be appropriated. Moral education is not neglected, as Socrates believes. Rather, parents, educators and teachers take care of it intensively from the start. This includes, for example, the treatment of pedagogically valuable poetry in the classroom. The children are presented with capable men from old times as classic role models and recommended to imitate them. In addition, there is the influence of social norms. The community educates the youth to respect the laws that promote righteousness. In this sense, everyone is a teacher of goodness to others as best they can. It is true that if the disposition is unfavorable, the education to excellence fails, but at least relatively poor citizens are civilized in comparison with savages. This is thanks to the upbringing and education one receives in a city like Athens. Protagoras wants to make its contribution in this area. He sees his special ability and his mission in spreading teachable goodness.

Overall virtue and individual virtues

In response to Protagoras' speech, Socrates replies that although virtue has now been proven to be teachable, an essential detail has remained unexplained. There was talk of various virtues such as justice , prudence and piety , which together should form goodness or the common virtue. It is unclear, however, whether these are independent parts of something that has been put together or just a description of various aspects of a single, uniform quality, excellence. In the former case, every virtue has its own quality and function, just like the eyes and ears as parts of the face. Then each virtue would have to be acquired individually, and if one had one one could at the same time be unqualified with regard to another. If, on the other hand, the virtue as a whole is a unity, then everyone who has acquired a single virtue is inevitably in possession of all the others. Socrates presents the unit hypothesis in two variants. One possibility is that the virtues are comparable to individual pieces of gold that exist separately, but are qualitatively the same and differ only in size. According to the other variant, “prudence”, “justice” etc. are just different names for one and the same entity . Socrates would like to get to the bottom of this question. Protagoras represents the independence and the special nature of the individual virtues, Socrates argues for the opposite position.

Socrates' first argument is that a consistent separation of the virtues in terms of their nature leads to the result that justice is impious and piety is unjust. Such paradoxical conclusions can only be avoided if one abandons the idea of ​​a separation of virtues. The second argument says that every quality can only have a single polar opposite, as in the cases of the pairs of opposites fast / slow, beautiful / ugly, good / bad and high / low. So even unreason can only be assigned a single opposite pole. Opposed to it, however, is both wisdom (sophía) and prudence (sōphrosýnē) . Thus wisdom and prudence should be one and the same. Finally, Socrates begins to present a third argument with which he denies the difference between justice and prudence. It is impossible to do injustice and be prudent, that is, to think sensibly and to think properly. But Protagoras no longer wants to follow the further train of thought. He has become more and more angry because the style of the investigation does not suit him. When asked what he describes as good, he replies with a commitment to the relativity of the good: some are good for humans, others for certain animal species, others for plants.

The argument about the procedure

In the debate so far, Socrates has followed his usual procedure. He is used to asking questions with which he purposefully steers towards the refutation of the opposing view. He expects short answers from the interlocutor, to which he can react with new questions until he reaches his goal of proving a discrepancy. With this procedure he keeps the book in his hand and steers the course of the discussion in his own way. Protagoras, on the other hand, would like to break out of the role of the only answerer assigned to him. He sees himself cornered by the questions and would rather make longer explanations with which he can bring his rhetorical strength to bear and distract from the weak points of his view. Socrates thinks this is lengthy and does not want to continue the discussion in such a way. He makes an appearance to leave, but the listeners, who enjoy the argument and do not allow it to be broken off, force a compromise. For a change, Socrates now takes on the role of the respondent.

The authority of poets

Protagoras, who now has the initiative, chooses a new approach, starting with poetry. In doing so, he follows the conviction that was widespread at the time that important poets should be regarded as knowing or wise; they are proclaimers of deep truths and authorities on questions of conduct. The correct interpretation of a poem opens up access to the wisdom contained therein and is therefore the most important part of education. The famous poet Simonides , whom Socrates also respects, wrote that it was difficult to become a good man. Elsewhere, however, Simonides reprimanded the statesman Pittakos , one of the famous " Seven Wise Men ", for having stated that it was difficult to be noble. Protagoras now criticizes the poet who disapproves of an assertion made by another that he himself makes.

Socrates, on the other hand, asserts that Simonides only described the attainment of efficiency or excellence as difficult, but not the permanent remaining in this state; therefore there is no contradiction. In reality, Simonides said that it was difficult to become good and that it was impossible for mortals to always be good. Fate could bring everyone into an emergency in which they no longer have a chance, so that they fail and thus become bad. Therefore, Simonides Pittakos, who did not rule out the permanent excellence of man, was able to criticize it without getting into a self-contradiction.

Socrates uses the opportunity to use the verses of Simonides to bring his conviction into play that nobody willingly commits a wrongdoing, but that everyone who does disgraceful and bad acts unintentionally. In conclusion, he criticizes the fixation on the statements of the poets and their interpretation. It is better to present your own views and to justify them than to talk about the interpretation of other people's sayings, the authors of which are not present and therefore cannot clarify what they have meant. Protagoras should now live up to his claim to be a teacher of competence, to be competent himself and to know about goodness or competence.

Bravery and daring

After Socrates had also gained the upper hand in the field of poetic interpretation, he returned to the theme of the unified overall virtue and again took on the role of the questioner. Protagoras admits that the virtues are in part similar, but sticks to his opinion that they are nevertheless different. This applies above all to bravery , which is very different from other virtues. The proof of this is that very unjust, godless, licentious and ignorant people are often extraordinarily brave. Socrates takes action against this argument by first trying to force the opponent to admit that only experts are really brave. He believes that the bold behavior of the ignorant is only audacity. Such daring is not to be confused with the virtue of bravery, but rather represents a form of madness. Bravery and knowledge are inseparable. Protagoras counters this by saying that the argument that Socrates uses to prove the unity of bravery and knowledge is flawed. With this kind of deduction one could also arrive at the absurd result, physical strength and knowledge form an inseparable unit. Protagoras also differentiates between bravery as virtue and recklessness as madness, but he thinks that one can attain bravery without knowledge or understanding; all that is required is an appropriate natural system and “good food for the soul”.

Virtue, lust and knowledge

Socrates now brings up another aspect of the subject: the relationship between the good, virtuous life and pleasure. He puts up for discussion the assertion that the pleasant or the pleasurable is always good as such and the sad and painful as such is always an evil. Considered on its own, if one disregards the bad consequences in some cases, the pleasant can only be good. Protagoras contradicts this thesis because he does not want to take the position of the hedonists , who equate the pleasant or the pleasurable with the good. He believes that since it happens that the pleasant is bad and the unpleasant good, the assessment of pleasure and displeasure depends on the circumstances: the pleasant is good when one feels the praiseworthy as pleasant, and the unpleasant bad when it is at the same time that is reprehensible. However, Protagoras is unsure about this subject; he does not know which position to take when evaluating pleasure. On the other hand, when asked how he assesses knowledge, he reacts differently. There is no doubt about this for him: as an educated sophist, he values ​​knowledge extremely and finds nothing wrong with it. Unlike most of his contemporaries, he does not see knowledge as a mere instrument that can be used or disregarded at will, but rather a ruling power. He considers it to be the most powerful, most important factor in human life. Socrates agrees. This paves the way for the next train of thought.

The involuntary bad behavior

Socrates uses the level of discussion that has now been reached to return to his assertion that nobody acts badly against their better judgment. Accordingly, bad action does not actually occur despite knowledge of its badness and the existence of a better alternative, although it seems so. With this thesis Socrates contradicts the widespread opinion that one can have insight and still be seduced by pleasure and displeasure and overwhelmed by affects such as erotic desire or fear. According to the common understanding that Socrates rejects, there is weakness of will: one cannot resist a desire even though one knows that this giving in is bad. Accordingly, one consciously chooses the bad. Socrates tries to prove this interpretation of human behavior to be erroneous.

In order to refute the opinion of the crowd, Socrates goes out for a detailed argument. Many people are hedonists, they equate the good with the pleasant and the bad with the unpleasant and base their lives on this level of knowledge. They prefer the path that seems to promise more pleasure and avoid the unpleasant. Sometimes, however, for the sake of current enjoyment, they accept future complaints such as illness or poverty, even though displeasure outweighs the overall balance. This is usually explained by saying that one is overwhelmed by something bad - long-term detrimental enjoyment - despite knowing the advisability of abstaining. Socrates points out, however, that such processes must be interpreted completely differently within the framework of a hedonistic model: One is indeed overwhelmed, but not by bad, but by good, namely the momentary pleasure. The error of the one overpowered by good consists only in the fact that he has not made a correct balance; otherwise he would have recognized that the future suffering outweighs the pleasure now attainable. Thus, he has not turned away from the good, but has only fallen victim to a misjudgment in his striving for good, as when something near appears larger or louder than something distant. He only apparently has the knowledge that would be necessary for a correct judgment.

Only the art of measurement can protect against such errors, which removes deceptions and establishes objective facts. Measurement and comparison enable the right choice of pleasure and displeasure, larger and smaller, more distant and closer. Those who act badly do so not out of a pursuit of something bad, but only out of a lack of knowledge about how to measure and how to determine the more and less by comparison. Knowledge of the art of measuring is a form of knowledge. So all bad actions can be traced back to ignorance, there can be no bad intention. Prodikos and Hippias, whom Socrates asked for their opinion, agree with this result, as did Protagoras.

Finally, Socrates comes back to the question of a special status of bravery among the virtues, which he now discusses on the basis of the theory of action that has since been developed. He now wants to show that bravery cannot be separated from knowledge and cowardice cannot be separated from ignorance. According to his understanding, bravery consists in knowing what is dangerous and what is not dangerous, cowardice is ignorance in this regard. Socrates understands the dangerous to mean that which brings with it evil. Neither the brave nor the cowardly looks for the dangerous, rather both want to avoid it as something bad. The only difference between them is that the brave knows what is really dangerous, while the cowardly is in error about it. For example, the brave understands that what is dangerous in war is not the courageous fulfillment of the duty to fight, but shameful fear or shameful daring. The cowardice of the fig is based on the fact that he does not recognize his fear as evil. So it is a form of ignorance. Thus wisdom shows itself to be the essence of valor; a guide can never be brave. Protagoras is reluctant to admit that he sees this.

The final balance

In conclusion, Socrates takes stock. It has turned out that being good or virtue is apparently a knowledge and thus teachable, albeit not in the sense of the sophistic understanding that Protagoras initially assumed when he affirmed teachability. However, the question of what being good is in itself remains open. It has to be answered first and foremost if one wants to gain definite certainty about the teachability. This investigation is reserved for future discussion. Socrates leaves the house with Hippocrates. So he has achieved his goal of dissuading Hippocrates from the plan to become a disciple of Protagoras.

Philosophical content

Plato's concern

Some researchers deny that the Protagoras produced a positive result. Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff admitted this view as early as 1919 . Christiaan Sicking believes that Plato's concern was to refute an adversary whose program rivaled his, not to spread his own positive doctrine. Protagoras was a more difficult opponent than the other opponents of Socrates in Plato's early dialogues, since, in contrast to them, he had no claim to possession of the truth. In recent research, however, the opposite position, the assumption of a positive content, has also found supporters. Proponents of this line of interpretation consider the agonistic element of the debate to be less important than was previously believed and assume that the two interlocutors work together despite the differences. The attitude of Socrates towards Protagoras is not hostile, but respectful. Rudolph H. Weingartner interprets the Protagoras as a dramatic juxtaposition of two contrary moral concepts and their corresponding ways of life; the aim is not to establish one or the other thesis.

Action Theory and Ethics

A topic that occupies modern research intensively is the understanding of "Socratic intellectualism ". Critics of this concept argue that the assertion, well-founded in the Protagoras , that deliberate and voluntary action against better knowledge is impossible, reflects an extreme, alien rationalism. Plato's Socrates disregards the irrational factors in human motivation or restricts himself to interpreting the desires in the context of a rational pleasure-displeasure calculation. Later Plato corrected this position in the Politeia dialogue . Anthony W. Price thinks that Plato denies the “weak will” only in the sense that one cannot act contrary to a currently existing better knowledge; He had conceded the possibility of disregarding a correct insight gained earlier but not preserved due to a lack of certainty. Raphael Woolf points out that Socrates' argument is an example of the application of the “ Socratic method ”, which uncovered a self-contradiction of the defender of the opposing position; However, the example is atypical, because in this case the contradiction does not exist between different statements, as in other dialogues, but between words and deeds. Thomas Brickhouse and Nicholas Smith try to clarify what the power of deceptive appearances is based on, which causes a near pleasure to be overweighted and thus to errors in the pleasure-displeasure calculation. Socrates did not dispute the reason for this, the existence of irrational desires, in Protagoras . But he distinguishes between strong and weak irrational desires. Only the strong are able to induce severe deceptions which then cannot be recognized as such. Therefore, their influence must be eliminated. Weak desires are always there, but they cannot prevent the correct application of the art of measurement. Therefore they are not dangerous for the philosopher who has the art of measuring. When he has freed himself from the power of strong desires, he is always capable of correct calculation. Terry Penner emphasizes the distinction between a weak will in relation to what is believed and one in relation to what is known. With the principle that nobody acts voluntarily against their better judgment, Socrates only refers to real knowledge, i.e. objectively correct assumptions, the correctness of which is known beyond doubt to the acceptor. The thesis does not apply to mere opinions - even correct ones.

The question of how Plato's Socrates actually assesses the hedonistic equation of the good with pleasure, which he makes the hypothetical basis of his argumentation in dialogue, is controversial. Most recent research emphasizes that he does not take this position seriously, but only used it as a starting point for his argumentation for didactic reasons. His aim was only to embarrass Protagoras and to show him a lack of consistency. In Gorgia's dialogue , Plato had Socrates clearly reject the hedonistic principle. René Lefebvre points out that although Plato did not approve of hedonism in Protagoras either, it was in this dialogue that he applied the principle of utilitarian thinking for the first time in Western philosophy by discussing a pleasure-displeasure calculus on a hedonistic basis. Martha Nussbaum and Marcel van Ackeren assume that it is not a matter of defining the content of the good as pleasure, but only about showing, by means of an arbitrary identification of the good with any individual good, that knowledge is the guarantee for the good life. According to this theory, pleasure only plays a “placeholder role” in Socrates' argument. It is the measure with which the method of measurement is demonstrated. This is how Bernd Manuwald thinks too . He is of the opinion that the pleasure measuring art discussed in Protagoras cannot be the actual measuring art in the sense of Plato, since it is relative; the true art of measurement must be absolute, which Plato opposes the relativism of Protagoras. You assume the good as a yardstick. The art of measuring pleasure only offers a certain structural model, not the solution in terms of content. However, the opposing position also has supporters. They believe that not only the dialogue figure Socrates seriously represents the hedonistic principle, but also that the author himself accepted a hedonistic concept at the time Protagoras was written. Plato was influenced by the position of historical Socrates. Lynn Huestegge considers Plato's Socrates to be a representative of a “higher” hedonism that does not mean “the ordinary lust for the moment” and can be reconciled with high ethical standards.

There are two opposing positions in the interpretation of the statements on the art of measurement. According to one, in the hedonistic model, all goods are commensurable with regard to their pleasure aspect , since pleasure is uniform. The art of measuring serves to measure and compare the pleasure content of the options available. The result of the measurement forms the basis for decision-making, with the goal of maximizing pleasure. According to the other interpretation, the commensurability does not emerge from the text of Protagoras . The art of measuring does not refer to a uniform, precisely quantifiable pleasure, but to an exact, reliable assessment of the consequences of the options.

The question of how Protagoras and Socrates imagine the relationship between the individual virtues and the overall virtue is also answered differently. In particular, it is disputed whether Socrates regards the individual virtues as identical entities or only as different names of the overall virtue and whether the analogy to qualitatively identical, only quantitatively different pieces of gold is compatible with the position of Protagoras or with that of Socrates. According to one interpretation, the individual virtues differ only in the difference in the areas in which the undifferentiated, indivisible overall virtue, which is knowledge, unfolds its effectiveness. According to the “ biconditional interpretation”, the virtues for Socrates are parts of a whole that can never appear separately, although they are defined differently according to their subject areas; Bravery is knowledge of a certain area, prudence is knowledge of another, etc. According to the “identity hypothesis”, it is not a question of parts, but only of a uniform overall virtue consisting of knowledge of the good and the bad.


Plato's theory of ideas , which he only presented in his middle creative period, does not yet seem to play a role in Protagoras . However, individual passages can be interpreted as allusions to this teaching or to questions and topics that the philosopher later dealt with in connection with the concept of "Platonic ideas".

Another topic of research is the relationship between Protagoras' measure theory and Plato's " unwritten teaching " or "principle teaching ", which he never set down in writing for fundamental considerations. Hans Joachim Krämer and Thomas Alexander Szlezák , prominent proponents of the ability to reconstruct the main features of this doctrine, believe that they have discovered a reference to it in Protagoras . The statements about the right measure in the dialogue should be related to “ the good ”, which functions as the measure in the doctrine of principles. The platonic dialectic is used as the measuring method . In the comprehensive analysis of being of the dialectic, the good is not measured, but it turns out to be the absolute measure of all good and bad things. Andrea Capra disagrees; he sees a modest skill in measurement technology, which should not be confused with dialectics and the Socratic knowledge of virtues. It only serves to remedy the ridiculous ignorance of the crowd.

Political philosophy, cultural philosophy and legal philosophy

The thesis put forward by Protagoras on qualification for political activity is important for the history of political philosophy . In Protagoras' opinion, citizens receive the ability to have a say in political issues through general education. Special training or philosophical studies are not required. However, a sophistic training is helpful if you are aiming for a management position. Moral upbringing by parents and educators, and above all constant interaction with decent citizens, provide sufficient social skills. In a civilized society like the Athenian one it is guaranteed that everyone appropriates the civic virtues as far as his disposition allows. This justifies Athens' democratic form of government, which enables every citizen to participate in political decision-making and the judiciary.

The lecture of Protagoras is also significant as a source for the ancient idea of ​​progress. The sophist assumes a primitive original state of humanity. The resulting hardship forced the formation of states. This initiated a beneficial civilization ascent that led to the enviable conditions of the present. With this view of history, Plato's Protagoras takes a counter-position to culturally pessimistic interpretations of history, such as those expressed in antiquity in the myth of the Golden Age . The ancient culture pessimists believed in an ideal original state and interpreted the course of history as a process of decline. The culturally pessimistic models are referred to in research as variants of the concept of descent (idea of ​​descent), the models of progress as variants of the concept of ascendant (idea of ​​ascent).

Protagoras' understanding of state formation is often compared with modern contract theory , the idea of ​​the “social contract”. Plato's Protagoras differs from the contract theorists of the 17th century in that he does not see the state community as an association of free, self-sufficient individuals, but rather regards the state as constitutive for human identity: only as a citizen does one become a person in the true sense of the word . Social interaction in the state is the decisive factor that makes man what he is as a civilized being. The citizen's membership of the polis is not a mere means to a good life, but an essential aspect of a humane existence.

The theory of punitive purposes of Protagoras is considered to be forward-looking . In his lecture, the sophist emphatically condemns the notion of atonement in criminal law. Since what has happened cannot be undone, it is pointless to punish someone for an injustice committed. It's not about the past, but about the future. The purpose of punishment is solely to improve the perpetrator and to prevent future criminal offenses by deterring them. Anyone who retaliates for the sake of the past wants to take revenge and is acting rashly like an animal. In this understanding of the purpose of the punishment, an “enlightening” tendency of sophistry is expressed.

The mythical-religious aspect

The myth that Plato tells of his Protagoras is not to be understood in such a way that Protagoras seriously means that the intervention of Prometheus, Zeus and Hermes was a real historical event. Rather, Protagoras only chooses the mythical form of representation because he considers it appealing and because he would like to present his thesis vividly in this way. Myth is not required to substantiate Protagoras' understanding of civilization. The historical Protagoras was an agnostic , but, as was customary at the time, he probably used the material offered by the myths of the gods for his own purposes.

Plato (Roman copy of the Greek Plato portrait of Silanion , Glyptothek Munich )


In research today there is consensus that the Protagoras is an authentic work of Plato. Only Olof Gigon questioned the authenticity.

The fact that the Protagoras belongs to the group of Plato's early dialogues, that is, originated before the middle creative period of the philosopher, can be deduced from linguistic and stylistic evidence; the substantive findings do not speak against it. Therefore, this classification is generally accepted in research. It is more difficult to allocate a place within the group of early works. In older research, the Protagoras was sometimes viewed as an expression of youthful exuberance. Often it was dated very early; it was even believed that he was already before the death of 399 BC. Socrates was executed. According to the current state of research, however, content-related and methodological aspects as well as the artful elaboration point to a relatively late drafting within the early period. It seems to be one of the last writings from this period. Plato probably wrote the dialogue in the 380s. Whether this happened before his first trip to Sicily, which he began in 388, or only after his return, after he founded his academy in 387 , is a matter of dispute.

Text transmission

The ancient text tradition consists only of a series of fragments of an Egyptian papyrus manuscript from the 3rd century. The oldest surviving medieval Protagoras manuscript was made for Arethas of Caesarea in the Byzantine Empire in 895 . The handwritten tradition consists of 37 manuscripts from the period from the 9th to the 16th century, which contain the text in full or in part.



The interest of ancient posterity in Protagoras was relatively low. Nothing is known of any commentary on the dialogue.

Plato's pupil Aristotle never explicitly referred to Protagoras . In his Nicomachean Ethics , however, he dealt with the intellectualism of Platonic Socrates, which he disapproved of, taking as a starting point the denial of the weak will in Protagoras . Aristotle thought that Socrates' view apparently contradicted the facts of experience. There is certainly action against better judgment that can be attributed to lack of control. Ignorance is not sufficient as an explanation, rather the question must be asked how ignorance, if it brings about such an action, comes about. From an intellectualistic point of view, the cause of wrong action must always be a wrong judgment. This is not the case, however, because whoever leads an uncontrolled life is not of the opinion that he has to act like this before he gets into this state.

Cicero created a Latin translation of Protagoras , which today has been lost except for a few short fragments.

In the tetralogical order of the works of Plato, which apparently in the 1st century BC Was introduced, the Protagoras belongs to the sixth tetralogy. The philosophy historian Diogenes Laertios gave "The Sophists" as an alternative title. In doing so, he referred to a now-lost work by the scholar Thrasyllos . When classifying the works of Plato according to their content, Diogenes classified Protagoras as "endeictic". What he meant by this term, which he did not use for any other work by Plato, is unclear. The adjective endeiktikós is derived from the verb endeiknýnai , which means “to show” or “to display”, “to show off”. Presumably this is the latter meaning; in this case it is a reference to the great speech of Protagoras in dialogue.

The rhetorician and sophist Aelius Aristides wrote a speech in the 140s that served to defend rhetoric against Plato's criticism. In it he reproduced the myth of Protagoras about the emergence of civilization in a form adapted to its purpose. With Aelius Aristides, the gift that Hermes brought to people on behalf of Zeus is rhetoric.

The scholar Athenaios , who used to criticize Plato, criticized chronological inconsistencies in Protagoras . He said that Hippias von Elis could not have stayed there at the time Protagoras was present in Athens, since his hometown was then enemies with Athens. In addition, the sons of Pericles, who are in dialogue among those present, were no longer alive when Protagoras arrived in Athens for the second time. Athenaios was partially mistaken about the historical course, which invalidates part of his argument. His statement that the chronologically relevant information in the dialogue is contradicting itself, however, is correct.

The beginning of Protagoras in the first edition, Venice 1513

Middle Ages and Early Modern Times

In the Middle Ages the dialogue was known to some Byzantine scholars, but the Latin-speaking educated Westerners had no access to the work.

In the west, the Protagoras was rediscovered in the age of Renaissance humanism . The famous humanist and Plato expert Marsilio Ficino , who worked in Florence, made a Latin translation. He published the Latin Protagoras in 1484 in the complete edition of his Plato translations. The first edition of the Greek text appeared in Venice in September 1513 by Aldo Manuzio as part of the first complete edition of Plato's works. The editor was Markos Musuros .


Philosophical Aspects

In 1804, the influential Plato translator Friedrich Schleiermacher published his translation of Protagoras . In the introduction he wrote that in this dialogue Plato had used his talent for ironic representation "to a large extent and with great self-confident virtuosity". In the ironic treatment or "annihilation" of the sophists, however, one did not see the main purpose of the work. The main intention is rather to proclaim the Socratic form of conversation as “the peculiar form of every genuinely philosophical communication”. At the same time, Plato makes the poorness of the sophistic method visible here.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel took the position of Protagoras in 1825/1826 in his lectures on the history of philosophy . He said that the statements on civic education in the great speech of the Sophist were "a very good reasoning and aptly against what Socrates said, which is only an empirical authority based on experience".

John Stuart Mill published a detailed rendering of the Protagoras in 1834 , translating passages of the dialogue into English. He saw in Plato's Socrates a utilitarian who had acted against the common morality defended by Protagoras. As a dialogue figure in Protagoras , Socrates sincerely represented utilitarianism, and this corresponds to the position of historical Socrates. The statements made by the dialogue figure Protagoras are reasonable and useful.

Friedrich Nietzsche saw in Protagoras a “Plato's competition in the field of sophistry”, with which respect for sophistry “even in its best appearances” should be downgraded. There is "a feeling of superiority through dialogue, a certain victorious serenity". This is in contrast to the harshness and sharpness of earlier dialogues. The questions remained completely unsolved.

In 1903, the Neo-Kantian Paul Natorp expressed the view in his study of the doctrine of ideas that in Protagoras Socrates did not represent ironically but seriously the view that there were no teachers of virtue. So he does not consider himself a teacher in this field either. Still, he stuck to the principle that virtue is knowledge. The “antithesis of these two leitmotifs of Socratics” is the “actual result of the whole involved discussion”. Only later did Plato come to the conclusion that virtue can be taught, albeit in the sense of a new concept of “teaching” and “learning”. According to this new understanding, learning should not be understood as “receiving from outside”, but as searching for the ground for insight into oneself under the guidance of the teacher.

In his treatise Plato's Dialectical Ethics , published in 1931, Hans-Georg Gadamer found that in Protagoras the hedonistic thesis only functions as a means of proving that bravery is knowledge. With this evidence, according to Gadamer's understanding, “the extreme paradox of the Socratic thesis is reached”. The paradox is that he or she proves to be brave who knows that what the fig is fleeing from is not to be feared at all. A parallel paradox lies in equating the good with the pleasant: It is not the presently pleasant that is truly pleasant, but the pleasant and the unpleasant, insofar as both contribute to the "perfect whole of being in existence". By its very nature, well-being does not present itself in a constant duration, but "in relation to a maximum of its total duration of life". Thus, the immediate comfort cannot constitute being good, because the highest degree of comfort no longer has the character of something present. This means in general terms: the understanding of existence must understand the present in terms of something non-present and can only accept it as good in such reference. The dialogue should lead to the insight that all knowledge is only based on the concept of the good and can only be justified from it.

Franz von Kutschera points to the rational decision theory outlined in Protagoras , the meaning of which goes far beyond the boundaries of the hedonism topic.

Literary aspects

The literary design of dialogue has received much recognition in the modern age. The philologist Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff called it a masterpiece in his 1919 Plato monograph. In doing so, the author succeeded in something he had never achieved again, even if it was only a youth work. The characters are portrayed from life, the action is presented according to the example of the drama. Werner Jaeger valued the “sheen of youthful cheerfulness and the witty mood of exuberant willfulness ” and found that no other dialogue surpassed the Protagoras “in terms of firmness and elasticity of the composition, of accuracy of characteristics or of dramatic effect”. For Michael Erler counts Protagoras to the "most perfect artistic and carefully crafted writings of Plato"; this is shown in composition, dramaturgy, character drawing and style. The judgments of William KC Guthrie , Franz von Kutschera and Alfred Edward Taylor are similar . Charles H. Kahn states that Plato created a splendid picture of the Athenian culture in the final phase of the Periclean epoch. The Protagoras is one of the most brilliant, but also one of the most amazing dialogues of the philosopher.

Often reference has been made to comedy-like traits in the dialogue plot. This includes the scene in which Socrates and Hippocrates stand in front of the house of Callias and can only with difficulty get the porter to allow them entry. Believing them to be sophists, he slams the door; only when they assure him that they are not sophists does he open it to them. Obviously, Plato moved from 421 BC. The comedy Kolakes des Eupolis , which is set in the house of Callias, is suggested . This piece, of which only fragments have survived, is about the generosity of Callias, who squandered the paternal inheritance. Among the characters who appear in the comedy and are mocked by Eupolis is Protagoras.

The Protagoras also plays a role in the history of literary criticism , because in the section on the poem of Simonides it offers the first completely transmitted example of a philological examination of a literary text. Martin Hose sees two opposing hermeneutical procedures in the different approaches of Protagoras and Socrates . The Protagoras method takes no account of the context of the poem or external circumstances, but isolates and criticizes a statement in the text (“decontextualization”). Hose draws attention to the fact that this way of dealing with poetry can be traced back beyond the Protagoras . He thinks it is not an arbitrary act against the poem, but a traditional way of interpretation in Greek literature. Plato's Socrates took the opposite path (“recontextualization”): He tried to restore internal connections and the external context and to clarify the prerequisites for intellectual and literary history. This is a recognition of his distance to the object, which he seeks to overcome. From a modern literary-historical point of view, this should be seen as trend-setting, although Socrates proceeded incorrectly.

Editions and translations

Editions (with translation)

  • Gunther Eigler (Ed.): Plato: Works in eight volumes . Volume 1, 4th edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2005, ISBN 3-534-19095-5 , pp. 83-217 (reprint of the critical edition by Maurice Croiset, 5th edition, Paris 1955, with the German translation by Friedrich Schleiermacher , 2nd, improved edition, Berlin 1817)
  • Karl Bayer , Gertrud Bayer (ed.): Plato: Protagoras. Beginnings of political education . Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf 2008, ISBN 978-3-538-03514-0 (uncritical edition with translation)
  • Hans-Wolfgang Krautz (Ed.): Plato: Protagoras . 2nd, supplemented edition, Reclam, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 978-3-15-001708-1 (uncritical edition with translation and brief commentary)
  • Ramón Serrano Cantarín, Mercedes Díaz de Cerio Díez (ed.): Platón: Protágoras . Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid 2005, ISBN 84-00-08352-0 (critical edition with Spanish translation)


  • Otto Apelt (translator): Plato's Dialogue Protagoras . In: Otto Apelt (Ed.): Platon: Complete Dialogues , Vol. 1, Meiner, Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-7873-1156-4 (reprint of the 2nd, revised edition, Leipzig 1922)
  • Bernd Manuwald (translator): Plato: Protagoras. Translation and commentary (= Plato: Works , edited by Ernst Heitsch and Carl Werner Müller , Vol. VI 2). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1999, ISBN 3-525-30421-8
  • Rudolf Rufener (translator): Plato: Protagoras . Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf 2005, ISBN 3-7608-4114-7 (with an introduction by Thomas Alexander Szlezák)
  • Franz Susemihl (translator): Protagoras . In: Erich Loewenthal (ed.): Plato: Complete works in three volumes. Volume 1, unchanged reprint of the 8th, revised edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2004, ISBN 3-534-17918-8 , pp. 55–128


Overview representations


  • Patrick Coby: Socrates and the Sophistic Enlightenment. A Commentary on Plato's Protagoras . Bucknell University Press, Lewisburg 1987, ISBN 0-8387-5109-1 .
  • Nicholas Denyer (Ed.): Plato: Protagoras . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2008, ISBN 978-0-521-54969-1 (Greek text with extensive commentary)
  • Larry Goldberg: A Commentary on Plato's Protagoras . Peter Lang, New York 1983, ISBN 0-8204-0022-X .
  • Laurence Lampert: How Philosophy Became Socratic. A Study of Plato's Protagoras, Charmides, and Republic . University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2010, ISBN 978-0-226-47096-2 , pp. 17–144 (illustration from the perspective of the school of Leo Strauss )
  • Bernd Manuwald: Plato: Protagoras. Translation and commentary (= Plato: Works , edited by Ernst Heitsch and Carl Werner Müller, Volume VI 2). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1999, ISBN 3-525-30421-8 .
  • Bernd Manuwald: Plato: Protagoras . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2006, ISBN 3-525-30605-9 (revised and updated, but greatly abridged version of Manuwald's 1999 commentary as a "study edition")
  • Christopher CW Taylor: Plato: Protagoras. Translated with Notes . 2nd, revised edition. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1991, ISBN 0-19-823934-3 .


  • Oded Balaban: Plato and Protagoras. Truth and Relativism in Ancient Greek Philosophy . Lexington Books, Lanham 1999, ISBN 0-7391-0075-0 .
  • Thomas Buchheim : Have measure and be measure. Reflections on the Platonic 'Protagoras' . In: Journal for philosophical research 38, 1984, pp. 629-637.
  • Gustav Grossmann: Plato and Protagoras . In: Journal for philosophical research 32, 1978, pp. 510-525.

Collections of articles

  • Giovanni Casertano (ed.): Il Protagora di Platone: struttura e problematiche . 2 volumes, Loffredo, Napoli 2004, ISBN 88-7564-032-7 .
  • Aleš Havlíček, Filip Karfík (ed.): Plato's Protagoras. Proceedings of the Third Symposium Platonicum Pragense . Oikoumene, Prague 2003, ISBN 80-7298-092-0

Web links


  1. See about the locations Bernd Manuwald: Plato: Protagoras. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 1999, p. 77.
  2. Plato, Protagoras 327d (mention of Agrioi ). For the dating question, see Debra Nails: The People of Plato , Indianapolis 2002, pp. 13, 309 f .; Bernd Manuwald: Plato: Protagoras. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 1999, pp. 79–82; Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 185; William KC Guthrie: A History of Greek Philosophy , Vol. 4, Cambridge 1975, pp. 214 f .; John Walsh: The dramatic dates of Plato's Protagoras and the lesson of arete . In: The Classical Quarterly, 34, 1984, pp. 101-106; Marco Dorati: Platone ed Eupoli (Protagora 314c-316a) . In: Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica Nuova Series 50, 1995, pp. 87-103, here: 95-99; David Wolfsdorf: The Dramatic Date of Plato's Protagoras . In: Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 140, 1997, pp. 223–230.
  3. On the dialogue figure Socrates in Protagoras see Larry Goldberg: A Commentary on Plato's Protagoras , New York 1983, pp. 67–73.
  4. Plato, Protagoras 314b.
  5. Plato, Protagoras 361e.
  6. Cynthia Farrar: The origins of democratic thinking , Cambridge 1988, p. 44 f. Note 2.
  7. Plato, Protagoras 317c.
  8. George B. Kerferd, Hellmut Flashar: Die Sophistik . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Sophistik, Sokrates, Sokratik, Mathematik, Medizin (= Outline of the History of Philosophy. The Philosophy of Antiquity , Volume 2/1), Basel 1998, pp. 1–137, here: 28– 43; Paul Demont: Protagoras d'Abdère . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 5, Part 2, Paris 2012, pp. 1700–1708; Bernd Manuwald: Plato: Protagoras. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 1999, pp. 78, 175; Bernd Manuwald: Plato or Protagoras? On the great speech of Protagoras (Plat. Prot. 320c8–328d2) . In: Christian Mueller-Goldingen , Kurt Sier (Hrsg.): Lenaika. Festschrift for Carl Werner Müller , Stuttgart 1996, pp. 103-131; Joseph M. Maguire: Protagoras ... or Plato? II. The Protagoras . In: Phronesis 22, 1977, pp. 103-122, here: 111-120.
  9. Marina B. McCoy: Protagoras on Human Nature, Wisdom, and the Good: The Great Speech and the Hedonism of Plato's Protagoras . In: Ancient Philosophy 18, 1998, pp. 21–39, here: 31–33; Charles L. Griswold: Relying on Your Own Voice: An Unsettled Rivalry of Moral Ideals in Plato's "Protagoras" . In: The Review of Metaphysics 53, 1999, pp. 283-307; Rudolph H. Weingartner: The Unity of the Platonic Dialogue , Indianapolis 1973, pp. 75, 132-134.
  10. George B. Kerferd, Hellmut Flashar: Die Sophistik . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Sophistik, Sokrates, Sokratik, Mathematik, Medizin (= Outline of the History of Philosophy. The Philosophy of Antiquity , Volume 2/1), Basel 1998, pp. 1–137, here: 64– 68; Bernd Manuwald: Plato: Protagoras. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 1999, p. 78 f .; Eckart Schütrumpf : Cosmopolitanism or Panhellenism? In: Hermes 100, 1972, pp. 5-29.
  11. Michel Narcy: Prodicus de Céos . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 5, Part 2, Paris 2012, pp. 1691–1695; George B. Kerferd, Hellmut Flashar: The sophistry . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Sophistik, Sokrates, Sokratik, Mathematik, Medizin (= Outline of the History of Philosophy. The Philosophy of Antiquity , Volume 2/1), Basel 1998, pp. 1–137, here: 58– 63; Bernd Manuwald: Plato: Protagoras. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 1999, p. 79.
  12. Plato, Protagoras 315d.
  13. Plato, Protagoras 335c-d. For Kallias Debra Nails, see: The People of Plato , Indianapolis 2002, pp. 68-74; David Wolfsdorf: The Historical Reader of Plato's Protagoras . In: The Classical Quarterly 48, 1998, pp. 126-133, here: 127-129.
  14. ^ Plato, Protagoras 336b-d, 348b-c. For the role of Alcibiades see Stefania Nonvel Pieri: La caccia al bell'Alcibiade . In: Giovanni Casertano (ed.): Il Protagora di Platone: struttura e problematiche , Vol. 1, Napoli 2004, pp. 7-38.
  15. Bernd Manuwald: Plato: Protagoras. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 1999, pp. 79, 139.
  16. Debra Nails: The People of Plato , Indianapolis 2002, pp. 169 f., 224.
  17. Bernd Manuwald: Plato: Protagoras. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 1999, p. 450. According to a different interpretation, the unnamed person with whom Socrates left the scene was not Hippocrates, but Alkibiades; see Laurence Lampert: How Philosophy Became Socratic , Chicago 2010, pp. 124-128.
  18. Plato, Protagoras 312a. On this aspect, see Anna Schriefl: Plato's Critique of Money and Wealth , Berlin 2013, pp. 128–130 and in general on Hippokrates Bernd Manuwald: Plato: Protagoras. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 1999, p. 79; Patrick Coby: Socrates and the Sophistic Enlightenment , Lewisburg 1987, p. 25 f.
  19. Plato, Protagoras 309a-310a. See Patrick Coby: Socrates and the Sophistic Enlightenment , Lewisburg 1987, pp. 19-25.
  20. Plato, Protagoras 310a-311a.
  21. Plato, Protagoras 311a-314b. Cf. Maddalena Meoli: La funzione dell'esempio 311b2-313c6 . In: Giovanni Casertano (ed.): Il Protagora di Platone: struttura e problematiche , Vol. 1, Napoli 2004, pp. 65–86.
  22. Plato, Protagoras 314c-317e. See Patrick Coby: Socrates and the Sophistic Enlightenment , Lewisburg 1987, pp. 32-44.
  23. Plato, Protagoras 317e – 319a.
  24. See on the concept of the "teachable" (didaktón) Stephen Fennell: The so-called "Teachability of Virtue" Thesis in Protagoras . In: Kevin Lee et al. (Eds.): Multarum Artium Scientia , Auckland 1993, pp. 118-125.
  25. ^ Plato, Protagoras 319a-320c.
  26. Plato, Protagoras 320c-322a.
  27. See on the terms díkē (law, justice) and aidṓs (shyness, sense of honor, respect, consideration) used here Frédérique Ildefonse (translator): Plato: Protagoras , Paris 1997, pp. 231-238; Stratos Geragotis: Justice et pudeur chez Protagoras . In: Revue de Philosophie Ancienne 13, 1995, pp. 187–197, here: 187 f., 193–197.
  28. Plato, Protagoras 322a-323c.
  29. See also George B. Kerferd: Protagoras' Doctrine of Justice and Virtue in the 'Protagoras' of Plato . In: The Journal of Hellenic Studies 73, 1953, pp. 42-45.
  30. ^ Plato, Protagoras 323c-328d. See Patrick Coby: Socrates and the Sophistic Enlightenment , Lewisburg 1987, pp. 60-68.
  31. Plato, Protagoras 328d-330b. Cf. John F. Finamore: The Role of δύναμις in Plato's Protagoras 329 C 2 - 332 A 2 . In: Elenchos 9, 1988, pp. 311-327, here: 311-315; Patrick Coby: Socrates and the Sophistic Enlightenment , Lewisburg 1987, pp. 71-75.
  32. Plato, Protagoras 330b-334c. See Jerome Wakefield: Why Justice and Holiness are Similar: Protagoras 330–331 . In: Phronesis 32, 1987, pp. 267-276; David Savan: Self-Predication in Protagoras 330–331 . In: Phronesis 9, 1964, pp. 130-135; John F. Finamore: The Role of δύναμις in Plato's Protagoras 329 C 2 - 332 A 2 . In: Elenchos 9, 1988, pp. 311-327, here: 316-327; Richard D. McKirahan: Socrates and Protagoras on σωφροσύνη and Justice. Protagoras 333-334. In: Apeiron 18, 1984, pp. 19-25; Richard D. McKirahan: Socrates and Protagoras on Holiness and Justice (Protagoras 330c-332a) . In: Phoenix 39, 1985, pp. 342-354; Roslyn Weiss: Socrates and Protagoras on Justice and Holiness . In: Phoenix 39, 1985, pp. 334-341.
  33. Plato, Protagoras 334c-338e. See Hartmut Westermann: The intention of the poet and the purposes of the interpreters , Berlin 2002, pp. 233–240; Alex G. Long: Conversation and Self-Sufficiency in Plato , Oxford 2013, pp. 34-39; Patrick Coby: Socrates and the Sophistic Enlightenment , Lewisburg 1987, pp. 86-96; Bernd Manuwald: Plato: Protagoras. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 1999, pp. 279–301.
  34. Plato, Protagoras 338e-339e. See Hartmut Westermann: The intention of the poet and the purposes of the interpreters , Berlin 2002, pp. 240–247; Bernd Manuwald: Plato: Protagoras. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 1999, pp. 306-314.
  35. Plato, Protagoras 339e – 345d. Cf. Hartmut Westermann: The intention of the poet and the purposes of the interpreters , Berlin 2002, pp. 248-258; Fabio Massimo Giuliano: Studi di letteratura greca , Pisa 2004, pp. 1-86; Frédéric Cossutta: La joute interprétative autour du poème de Simonide dans le Protagoras: herméneutique sophistique, herméneutique socratique? In: Frédéric Cossutta, Michel Narcy (eds.): La forme dialogue chez Platon , Grenoble 2001, pp. 119–154; Kurt Sier: Plato, Protagoras 345a1 – b8 . In: Philologus 142, 1998, pp. 41–51 (cf. Bernd Manuwald: Platon: Protagoras. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 1999, p. 344); Valentina Origa: Socrate interpreta Simonide. La rilettura platonica del 'Carme a Scopas' . In: Lexis 17, 1999, pp. 225-246; Marian Demos: Lyric Quotation in Plato , Oxford 1999, pp. 11–38, here: 11–27.
  36. ^ See on this review Thomas A. Szlezák: Read Platon , Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, pp. 53–56; Ruth Scodel : Literary Interpretation in Plato's Protagoras . In: Ancient Philosophy 6, 1986, pp. 25-37.
  37. Plato, Protagoras 345d-349a. See Michael Gagarin: The Purpose of Plato's Protagoras . In: Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 100, 1969, pp. 133-164, here: 151 f .; Ernst Heitsch: Plato and the beginnings of his dialectical philosophizing , Göttingen 2004, pp. 90–92; Hartmut Westermann: The intention of the poet and the purposes of the interpreters , Berlin 2002, pp. 258–268.
  38. Plato, Protagoras 349a-351b. See Christopher CW Taylor (translator): Plato: Protagoras , 2nd, revised edition, Oxford 1991, pp. 150-161; Michael J. O'Brien: The "Fallacy" in Protagoras 349D – 350C . In: Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 92, 1961, pp. 408-417; Daniel T. Devereux: Protagoras on Courage and Knowledge: Protagoras 351a – b . In: Apeiron Vol. 9 No. 2, 1975, pp. 37-39.
  39. Plato, Protagoras 351b-352d. See Patrick Coby: Socrates and the Sophistic Enlightenment , Lewisburg 1987, pp. 142-145.
  40. ^ Plato, Protagoras 352d-353c.
  41. Plato, Protagoras 353c-356e. Cf. Marcel van Ackeren: The knowledge of the good , Amsterdam 2003, pp. 76–85. For the picture of “perspective illusion” in Plato see Hermann Gundert : Platonstudien , Amsterdam 1977, pp. 160–177.
  42. Plato, Protagoras 356c-359a. See Patrick Coby: Socrates and the Sophistic Enlightenment , Lewisburg 1987, pp. 151-165.
  43. ^ Plato, Protagoras 359a – 360e. Cf. Bernd Manuwald: Plato: Protagoras. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 1999, pp. 425–441; Patrick Coby: Socrates and the Sophistic Enlightenment , Lewisburg 1987, pp. 165-172.
  44. Plato, Protagoras 360e – 362a. Cf. Bernd Manuwald: Plato: Protagoras. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 1999, pp. 442-450.
  45. ^ Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff: Platon. His life and works , 5th edition, Berlin 1959 (1st edition Berlin 1919), p. 110.
  46. Christiaan MJ Sicking: Distant Companions , Leiden 1998, pp. 183-208.
  47. ^ Fabio Massimo Giuliano: Studi di letteratura greca , Pisa 2004, p. 78. Cf. James L. Kastely: Plato's Protagoras: Revisionary History as Sophisticated Comedy . In: Rhetoric Review 15, 1996, pp. 26-43, here: 31-35, 38 f.
  48. Rudolph H. Weingartner: The Unity of the Platonic Dialogue , Indianapolis 1973, p. 75.
  49. An overview is provided by Jörn Müller : Weakness of Will in Ancient and Middle Ages , Leuven 2009, pp. 64–73.
  50. ^ Charles H. Kahn: Plato and the Socratic Dialogue , Cambridge 1996, pp. 226-230.
  51. Anthony W. Price: Virtue and Reason in Plato and Aristotle , Oxford 2011, pp. 267-269.
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  53. ^ Thomas C. Brickhouse, Nicholas D. Smith: Socrates on Akrasia, Knowledge, and the Power of Appearance . In: Christopher Bobonich , Pierre Destrée (Ed.): Akrasia in Greek Philosophy , Leiden 2007, pp. 1–17.
  54. Terry Penner: Socrates on the Strength of Knowledge: Protagoras 351B-357E . In: Archive for the history of philosophy 79, 1997, pp. 117–149.
  55. Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 184 f .; Daniel C. Russell: Plato on Pleasure and the Good Life , Oxford 2005, pp. 239-248; Daniel C. Russell: Protagoras and Socrates on Courage and Pleasure: Protagoras 349d ad finem . In: Ancient philosophy 20, 2000, pp. 311–338; René Lefebvre: Plato, philosophe du plaisir , Paris 2007, pp. 11–15; Charles H. Kahn: Plato and the Socratic Dialogue , Cambridge 1996, pp. 239-243; Donald J. Zeyl: Socrates and Hedonism: Protagoras 351b-358d . In: Phronesis 25, 1980, pp. 250-269; Mike Dyson: Knowledge and hedonism in Plato's Protagoras . In: The Journal of Hellenic Studies 96, 1976, pp. 32-45; William KC Guthrie: A History of Greek Philosophy , Vol. 4, Cambridge 1975, pp. 231-235; John Patrick Sullivan: The Hedonism in Plato's Protagoras . In: Phronesis 6, 1961, pp. 10-28.
  56. René Lefebvre: Platon, philosophe du plaisir , Paris 2007, p. 46 f.
  57. Martha C. Nussbaum: The fragility of goodness , Cambridge 1986, pp. 109-112; Marcel van Ackeren: The knowledge of the good , Amsterdam 2003, pp. 85–90. Cf. Wolfgang Maria Zeitler: Freedom of choice in Plato , Munich 1983, p. 42; Thomas F. Morris: The Argument in the Protagoras that No One Does What He Believes To Be Bad . In: Interpretation 17, 1989/1990, pp. 291-304.
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  59. Justin CB Gosling, Christopher CW Taylor: The Greeks on Pleasure , Oxford 1982, pp. 45-68; Terence Irwin: Plato's Ethics , New York 1995, pp. 85-92. See the relevant articles in Aleš Havlíček, Filip Karfík (ed.): Plato's Protagoras , Prague 2003, pp. 133–192.
  60. Lynn Huestegge: Lust and Arete bei Platon , Hildesheim 2004, p. 40.
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  62. See the thorough study by Denis O'Brien: Socrates and Protagoras on Virtue . In: Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 24, 2003, pp. 59–131. Cf. Frédérique Ildefonse: Protagoras . In: Richard Goulet (Ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Volume 5, Part 1, Paris 2012, pp. 759–771, here: 765–767 and the critical opinion by Bernd Manuwald: The Unity of Virtue in Plato's Protagoras . In: Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 29, 2005, pp. 115–135 and John F. Finamore: The Role of δύναμις in Plato's Protagoras 329 C 2 - 332 A 2 . In: Elenchos 9, 1988, pp. 311-327.
  63. ^ Margaret Hartman: How the inadequate models for virtue in the Protagoras illuminate Socrates' view of the Unity of the Virtues . In: Apeiron 18, 1984, pp. 110-117.
  64. ^ Gregory Vlastos : Platonic Studies , 2nd, corrected edition, Princeton 1981, pp. 224-228, 232-234.
  65. Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 184 f .; Holger Thesleff : Platonic Patterns , Las Vegas 2009, p. 277 and note 320; Roslyn Weiss: Socrates and Protagoras on Justice and Holiness . In: Phoenix 39, 1985, pp. 334-341, here: 338 f .; Bernd Manuwald: Plato: Protagoras. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 1999, pp. 250-253.
  66. ^ Hans Joachim Krämer: Arete in Platon and Aristoteles , Heidelberg 1959, pp. 396–399, 490–492, 528; Thomas Alexander Szlezák: Plato and the writing of philosophy , Berlin 1985, pp. 175–177. Cf. Lynn Huestegge: Lust and Arete at Platon , Hildesheim 2004, pp. 9, 42, 106-108; Giovanni Reale: On a new interpretation of Plato , 2nd, expanded edition, Paderborn 2000, p. 333; Holger Thesleff: Platonic Patterns , Las Vegas 2009, p. 277 and note 321.
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  68. See Cynthia Farrar: The origins of democratic thinking. The invention of politics in classical Athens , Cambridge 1988, pp. 44-98. See André Motte : Un mythe fondateur de la démocratie (Plato, Protagoras, 319c – 322d) . In: François Jouan, André Motte (eds.): Mythe et politique , Genève 1990, pp. 219–229; C. Fred Alford: A Note on the Institutional Context of Plato's Protagoras . In: Classical World Vol. 81 No. 3, 1988, pp. 167-176.
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  78. Compiled by the editors Ramón Serrano Cantarín, Mercedes Díaz de Cerio Díez: Platón: Protágoras , Madrid 2005, pp. CXXXVII – CLIX.
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