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The Older Sophists

1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0872205574
ISBN-10: 0872205576
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Editorial Reviews


Will be of interest both to those who know Greek and to those who do not, and, it is hoped, will provide a contribution to the serious study of the sophist movement. . . . Fascinating reading. --The Classical Review

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

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Product Details

  • Library Binding: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. (March 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872205576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872205574
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,679,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Light Nykorchuk on March 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
The effect of speech upon the condition of the soul is comparable to the power of drugs over the nature of bodies. -- Gorgias, Encomium of Helen; trans. Rosamond Kent Sprague. The Older Sophists.

Right from the very beginning of Encomium, Gorgias promises to replace the falsehoods told about Helen with the truth. In fact, he goes on to imply that the worth of all speech is best measured not by its truth value but its practical efficacy -- in particular its contribution to the flourishing of the soul. And his discourse on Helen exemplifies this implication. That speech can be good or bad as well as true or false is the main point of the simile Gorgias draws, likening the relationship between discourse and the soul to that between drugs and the body. Speeches, like drugs, possess the power to cause changes: whereas drugs affect the body, discourses act on the soul. Moreover, different kinds of speech produce different effects, and in this too it is like drugs, some of which "bring an end to disease and others to life ... some cause fear ... and some bewitch the soul with a kind of evil persuasion."
Both a medical and a soul doctor pursue a profession in which something of great value and that is irreplaceable is at stake. And the form taken by the knowledge of medicine and that of efficacious discourse is similar: both are practical not theoretical, concerned with useful knowledge rather than objective truth. That is, knowing which discourses are good for the soul and which are bad requires experience as well as study, skills as well as ideas, and innate talent as well as rigorous training.

But who is the physician of the soul? The answer seems to be: the rhetorician, the one who dispenses words in ways that make souls flourish. "I have by means of speech removed disgrace from a woman." -- Gorgias
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