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Sophism, Pericles and Platon's Apology

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  1. Pericles and his teachers
  2. Charges against Sophists

Sophism deals with the human ability to use language for the purpose of convincing and persuading someone. Although the actual meaning of sophism is much more complex, the idea is that a good understanding of sophist principles allows one to achieve a high status and great success in political and social life. Sophism is essentially based on the principle that a person well practiced in speech and persuasion techniques will be able to win any verbal argument, even if he is morally or otherwise wrong. The fact that he is wrong means very little because his superior speaking abilities presented a more positive and more credible image to the public.

[...] New York: Modern Library; Modern Library Paperback edition (April 10, 2001). [...]

[...] Pericles and Alcibiades, chose to rule Athens using principles that were closer to the ideas of Sophism rather than from a Chance and Necessity perspective. In regard to Thucydides, we can clearly see that the people of Athens enjoyed using the oracles to make many important decisions for the city. Often, rulers would seek help from the oracles and look for omens to decide how to act in the future. According to Thucydides, ?They [people in Epidamnus] sent to Delphi to inquire from the god whether they should hand over their city to the Corinthians, who had founded it, and so get help from that quarter. [...]

[...] Plutarch explains to us that ?Alcibiades and his other friends persuaded Pericles to appear again in public? (203, 37). In regard to religious belief, Sophists would encounter great problems?and very often dangers?by doubting the existence of the gods. Although many great Sophists did not outright reject the gods, like Socrates, they adapted arguments and perspectives whose adaptation would render the gods meaningless and unimportant. Socrates would teach arguments to his students that were not in line with the traditional religious thoughts of the time, and this radical approach would eventually lead to bitter criticism and even law suits. [...]

[...] His mannerisms revealed that he often acted for but against the interest of the public, and this was an important sophist principle. Socrates, although himself apparently ethical, was considered morally reprehensible by many because of his supposed atheism, his unwillingness to compromise his sophist views, and his strong support of Sophism and non-traditional forms of education. Socrates believed strongly that Sophism was an honest philosophy that was worth teaching to the youth, and he was willing to take this belief to his grave. Bibliography Plato. "The Apology." Trans. John Smith. New York: Classic Books Clough, Arthur Hugh. Plutarch's Live Volume 1. [...]

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