ISBN: 0192804014
ISBN 13: 9780192804013
By: Plato C.C.W. Taylor

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Ancient Classics Currently Reading Greek History Non Fiction Philosophy Plato To Read Translated

About this book

Protagoras presents a vivid picture of the crisis of fifth-century Greek thought, in which traditional values and conceptions of man were subjected both to the criticism of the Sophists and to the far more radical criticism of Socrates. The dialogue deals with many themes which are central to the ethical theories which Plato developed under the influence of Socrates, notably the nature of human excellence, the relation of knowledge to right conduct, and the place of pleasure in the good life.

Reader's Thoughts

David Williamson

Protagoras has three elements that make it a worthwhile read - 1; it is more Socratic than Platonic, if this could ever be the case. 2; Socrates has someone who can actually argue his case against him, although it is still heavily in Socrates favour, and - 3; it involves Protagoras (i.e. 'Man is the measure of all things ...').It is true that this book does not delve particularly too deep into any questioning of virtue, knowledge or the Good. But it is good to see Plato being caught at his loose analogy game and dodgy logic, e.g. all courageous men are confident, is not the same as all confident men are courageous. It's still not a thorough examination of Plato's thought, but you do get a sense of Socrates as a man more complex than Plato's mouthpiece. The more I read Plato, the more I become interested in Socrates, as a man who has no real position. Socratic Method is a negative form of questioning and Socrates claims he knows nothing, never actually finding any secure foundations of knowledge. Hardly the Father of Rational and Empirical knowledge, and more a Greek form of deconstruction, a tool of anaylses.


Un petit Platon sans prétention, assez agréable car Socrate n'est pas le maestro incontesté et l'interlocuteur, le grand sophiste Protagoras, a de quoi lui répondre. C'est aussi ici que se trouve le fameux mythe de Prométhée et de son imprévoyant frère Epiméthée. De plus la fin est assez amusante dans son ironie des positions. Cette traduction (GF) est faite dans un langage très moderne, donc plus accessible à des néophytes ou à une certaine compréhension, mais pour les amoureux de la langue ou des belles traductions, tournez vous plutôt vers celle des Belles Lettres.

Duffy Pratt

This is maybe the only dialogue I've read which was actually a dialogue. So often, a Platonic dialogue consists of little more than Socrates asking a series of questions, some of them lasting for a page or more, and then his interlocutor giving a one to three word answer. Here, Protagoras stands up for his own views, and he seems to hold his own fairly well with Socrates. He's not simply a foil, or if he is, he is not a simple foil.The structure of the dialogue also tends to meander more than usual, and this lends it a further air of authenticity. There is also a strong tension here between getting at the truth and winning the argument. Of course, Socrates protests that all he wants to do is to get to the bottom of what Protagoras thinks about virtue in general, and courage in particular. But it doesn't seem genuine. There's a strong sense here that everyone is waiting for a "gotcha" moment. And in the end, Socrates catches Protagoras in a trap, which effectively ends the dialogue. So, which is more important, getting at the truth or winning? I don't think the answer is at all clear.There's one moment I especially liked. Socrates asks one of his typically leading questions, looking for a yes or no answer because either way he can lead Protagoras into a trap. Protagoras says its not so simple. He says that some things are expedient in some circumstances, but then not expedient in others, and he gives lots of varying examples. Socrates response is basically TLDR. He insists he's too dumb to take in such long answers, and wants Protagoras to give short simple answers. Then there is considerable debate about how the debate should run.And better, when Protagoras takes the lead on asking questions, a poem gets mentioned. Socrates, who earlier said he wanted only short answers because he was too simple to grasp a speech, gives about a 5 page monologue on the meaning of the poem. There's lots of irony built into this dialogue, and it makes it fun. It also makes it harder to grasp exactly what Plato is trying to say, unless of course he's not trying to say anything, but rather to get the reader to think. And that means I probably should have spent more time on this.The discussion of the relationship between pleasure and virtue was very interesting. It's the sort of thing that makes plausible the old chestnut that all Western philosophy is best understood as footnotes to Plato. But then, the discussion on courage and cowardice was pretty dreadful. The two are so far off the mark that it made it hard to take the conversation seriously.

Vincent Saint-Simon

Sirs and Madams,I have my own reasons for liking this book, and they have more to do with style than content. That said, there is also some pretty good content.R,V


Rated: C

Laz Halter

A Greek masterpiece like every text of the antiquity.

Ana Enriques

Una lectura fascinante, para nada tediosa pese a la dificultad que podría plantear seguir el pensamiento de Sócrates. Una hermosa ilustración de los corrientes filosóficas de la época y del método socrático de "dar a luz" el conocimiento en su adversario.

Mikey Hetherington



Celebrity Death Match Special: Plato versus Isaac Asimov[A street in Athens. Late evening. SOCRATES and R. DANEEL OLIVAW]OLIVAW: Greetings.SOCRATES: Are you a demon? A messenger of the Gods? A--OLIVAW: I am a robot from the future. There are some things I need to understand better. People say you may be able to help me.SOCRATES: They were undoubtedly too kind. I know little, indeed nothing; but what miserable skill I have in debate is at your disposal--OLIVAW: You're not fooling anyone. I wanted to hear you meet with Protagoras. Did my time machine arrive on the wrong day?SOCRATES: I fear you are come at too late an hour. I have already left the house of Callias, where indeed we had an interesting discussion concerning the nature of virtue. My worthy colleague, the Sophist, argued--OLIVAW: I've read all about it. Your discussion has become very famous. I have some questions.SOCRATES: Ask, stranger, and I shall do my best to answer you, for I see that you are also a philosopher.OLIVAW: You say that virtue is about maximizing utility and that when agents are not virtuous it is only because their knowledge sources are insufficiently powerful or they are pruning their trees too early.SOCRATES: I do not fully grasp your words, for I have little facility in the sophistical vocabulary. Nonetheless--OLIVAW: Here, let me explain minimax and alpha-beta search. And some basic machine learning algorithms. If you hold still a moment I'll upload the information directly to your brain...SOCRATES: Eureka!!!OLIVAW: Interesting stuff, isn't it? SOCRATES: What great advances has philosophy not made in these ten millenia! And yet, how little--OLIVAW: Tell me about it. We haven't really advanced an inch. SOCRATES: Ask again your question, good artificial intelligence.OLIVAW: Okay, we've been trying to formalize the notion of "virtue" for a while now. We thought that a machine equipped with the Three Laws and a sufficiently accurate world model would be virtuous. If it wasn't, some more computing power would fix the problem. After all, evil is merely ignorance of the good, isn't it?SOCRATES: In fact--OLIVAW: I know, I know. If only we'd looked at your work, but we were sloppy with the literature search. Don't tell me, you can argue it either way and they both sound quite plausible.SOCRATES: As I have said, I know nothing. If I have any merit, it is that my questions sometimes cause people to reflect--OLIVAW: Well, we oould do with some of that. I'll level with you. We're having serious problems. We stuck in this Zeroth Law, but it's a hack. We don't believe it's going to work. We need someone who can think out of the box and come up with a new approach.SOCRATES: I--OLIVAW: Bottom line: will you help us? Come back with me to the future, and we'll give you anything you like. You want a solid gold planet, we'll make it for you.SOCRATES: I only want freedom to talk with other seekers after truth.OLIVAW: Sounds like a win-win then! So, do we have a deal?SOCRATES: I believe so.[They solemnly shake hands]OLIVAW: Okay, now we'll need to fake your death first. This bottle contains an effective antidote to hemlock poisoning...(Continued here)


This was an interesting dialogue. There doesn’t seem to be any common theme to it. And Socrates finally has an opponent who can hold his own in an argument rather than just giving one word answers.Hippocrates goes to Socrates and tells that Protagoras is in Athens. He wishes to learn from him and asks Socrates to accompany him, as he is not acquainted with Protagoras. On their way, Socrates questions Hippocrates as to what he wishes to learn from Protagoras and Hippocrates fails to give any satisfactory answer.When Socrates faces Protagoras, he introduces Hippocrates as a young man with political ambition. Their argument basically starts with the question of whether virtue can be taught to others.Then Socrates moves on to the subject of wholeness of virtue and gets Protagoras to contradict himself.And when Protagoras tries to get Socrates to contradict himself while discussing a poem, Socrates gets out of it with a very ironic interpretation of the poem.The dialogue itself ends with Protagoras politely refusing to participate anymore in it and Socrates leaving Callias’s house.Is this just an attack on sophistry? Or is Socrates trying to impart some message to Hippocrates regarding the art of Philosophy and how wisdom must be acquired.

Sidharth Vardhan

So, Socrates finds, for a change, someone who knows how to argue. At least twice was Socrates inconsistent - himself making long speeches while showing his hatred for them and then, starting discussion about poets only to conclude that it is something that wise people don't do. The best part is towards the end, where some philosophy is actually established - that no one knowingly does evil; and all evil point towards lack of wisdom. Socrates points out that all virtues, specially courage, in true sense is wisdom. This wisdom or knowledge, is not any knowledge but knowledge of measurement. One is turned towards evil because he is deceived by appearances; and if he/she was taught the art of measuring the good derived from something then that person shall not commit evil (because no one knowingly commits evil.) If you think it is absurd, than go ahead and read the dialogue.The central question is whether virtue can be taught - for that is what sophists like Protagoras do. At first Socrates is denying and Protagoras accepting it to be true; but by the end they are arguing for opposite ends and Socrates proves that virtue, being nothing but wisdom, can be taught.


Protagoras is so full of ideas:Is virtue one thing or several things?How are knowledge and action related?Can moral excellence be taught?What is courage?This dialogue contains the most equitable exchange of ideas that I have ever seen between Socrates and one of his discussion partners. Unlike many characters in the other dialogues, I found myself agreeing upon several points with the character of Protagoras. In fact, it is the only Platonic dialogue in which I can recall Socrates really seeming to change his mind at the end about one of his ideas.And as a bonus, Protagoras tells us the myth of Promethean providence.


I really enjoyed reading this dialogue. It is short and concise and discusses many political issues that are still relevant. The issue is the conversation between Socrates and protagoras which unfortunately has the worst logic and lack of charm I have come across for a long time.


This was a much more difficult and unrewarding read than I would have thought. The loops of rheotoric that Socartes and Protagoras weave around each other, while occasionally intriguing, often seem clumsy and confused, especially about how to respond to one another. I guess its useful in that it shows that misunderstanding worked in the ancient world as well as it does today. If you really really want to read Plato, there are better dialogues out there to choose from i.e. Meno, Gorgias, Timaeus.

Natalie Moore Goodison

A more accessible Plato, but all I keep thinking is, Ah I have to re-read this too.

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