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Protagoras (Oxford World's Classics) 1st Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0199555659
ISBN-10: 0199555656
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About the Author

C.C.W. Taylor is Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199555656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199555659
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.3 x 4.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #462,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jordan Bell on July 14, 2015
Format: Paperback
If you want to read Plato, the Protagoras is a good place to start. It will give you a correct impression of what Plato's dialogues are like (both content and style), but is short enough not to feel overwhelming, as the Republic might feel if you don't know what you are getting into. The most common things Socrates does is ask people to define things, and show them that their definitions are inadequate. If one studies with a sculptor to become a sculptor, then one studies with a sophist to become a sophist (this is already a typical line of reasoning), but, "I should be surprised if you even know what a sophist is." The only big Platonic doctrine that does not appear in the Protagoras is the immortality of the soul and the theory of recollection (which I think of as a single doctrine).

We see the high quality of Plato's writing early in this dialogue. When Socrates is telling Protagoras how experts are followed in shipbuilding but not in state policy or teaching excellence, he says that the sons of excellent fathers are not taught excellence by their fathers, but rather "they wander about on their own like sacred cattle looking for pasture, hoping to pick up excellence by chance."

Protagoras and Socrates quote and interpret a lyric poem of Simonides, and this takes up about a sixth of the dialogue. Adam Beresford has given a reconstruction of this poem: "Nobody’s Perfect: A New Text and Interpretation of Simonides PMG 542", Classical Philology, vol. 103, no. 3, 2008, 237-256. (PMG = Poetae Melici Graeci. See also number 476 of the Loeb Classical Library.) Previously, Beresford translated the Protagoras and Meno, and the next time I read the Protagoras I plan to read his translation. I also recommend W. K. C. Guthrie's translation of the Protagoras; Guthrie had earlier written a monograph "Orpheus and Greek Religion" and later wrote his six volume "History of Greek Philosophy".
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