Nature, Man and Logos: An Outline of the Anthropology of the Sophists

Author: Zbigniew Nerczuk
Year of publication: 2016
Source: Show
Pages: 43-52
DOI Address:
PDF: kie/112/kie11203.pdf

The paper aims at reconstructing the fundamentals of the sophistic anthropology. Contrary to the recognized view of the humanistic shift which took place in the sophistic thought, there is evidence that the sophists were continuously concerned with the problems of philosophy of nature. The difference between the sophists and their Presocratic predecessors was that their criticism of the philosophical tradition and the transformative answers given to the old questions were the basis and the starting point of the “ethical” and “rhetorical” part of their intellectual activity. This naturalistic perspective is reflected in their research in the field of medicine and biology, in the discussion about “the human nature”, and in their interest in the individual physiological and mental conditions, which determine the state of the human body and the behaviour of a man. The sophists pioneered in linguistic, rhetorical, and philological studies. To enhance the power of persuasion, they investigated how various mental conditions influenced cognitive processes and physiological reactions. Thus they started a thorough examination of the human psyche, initiating the field of psychology. Although the originality of the sophists in each of the aforementioned aspects is undeniable, a complete picture of the sophists can only be achieved by examining the sources of their thought: the Presocratic philosophical tradition, Hippocratic medicine, and earlier literary tradition.


  • Brett, G.S. (1912). A History of Psychology. London: G. Allen & Company Ltd.
  • Capizzi, E. (1955). Protagora: le testimonianze e i frammenti. Firenze: Sansoni.
  • Cicero, M.T. (1927). Tusculan Disputations. (J.E. King, Trans.). London: Heinemann.
  • Consigny, S. (1992). Gorgias’s Use of the Epideictic. Philosophy and Rhetoric, 25 (3), p. 281 297.
  • Cornford, F.M. (1935). Plato’s Theory of Knowledge, The Theaetetus and the Sophist of Plato translated with a running commentary. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd..
  • Deschardin, R. (1990). The Rational Enterprise: Logos in Plato’s “Theaetetus”. New York Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Diels, H. (1884). Gorgias und Empedokles. Sitzungsberichte Der Königlich Preussischen Akademie Der Wissenschaften Zu Berlin, p. 343 368.
  • Diels, H., & Kranz, W. (Eds.). (1968). Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker. Griechisch und Deutsch von Hermann Diels. Herausgegeben von Walther Kranz (13th ed.). Dublin/ Zürich: Weidmann.
  • Diels, H., & Sprague, R.K. (1972). The Older Sophists: A Complete Translation by Several Hands of the Fragments in Die Fragmente Der Vorsokratiker, Edited by Diels­Kranz. With a New Edition of Antiphon and of Euthydemus. Indianapolis / Cambridge: University of South Carolina Press.
  • Dupréel, E. (1948). Les Sophistes. Protagoras, Gorgias, Prodicus, Hippias. Neuchâtel: Éditions du Griffon.
  • Emsbach, M. (1980). Sophistik als Aufklärung: Untersuchungen zu Wissenschaftsbegriff und Geschichtsauffassung bei Protagoras. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann.
  • Flashar, H. (1956). Die medizinischen Grundlagen der Lehre von der Lehre von der Wirkung der Dichtung in der griechischen Poetik. Hermes, 84, p. 12 48.
  • Fuller, B.A.G. (1931). History of Greek Philosophy. Sophists. Socrates. Plato (Vol. 2). New York: Henry Holt and Company.
  • Guthrie, W.K.C. (1971). The Sophists. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Halliwell, S. (1994). Philosophy and Rhetoric. In I. Worthington (Ed.), Persuasion: Greek Rhetoric in Action (pp. 222 243). London and New York: Routledge.
  • Hippocrates. (2005). On Ancient Medicine, translated with introduction and commentary by Mark J. Schiefsky. (M.J. Schiefsky, Trans.). Leiden Boston: Brill.
  • Hoffman, E. (1925). Sprache und archaische Logik. Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr.
  • Jaeger, W. (1944). The Conflict of Cultural Ideals in the Age of Plato. (G. Highet, Trans.) (2nd ed., Vol. Paideia: t). New York Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Kennedy, G.A. (1963). The Art of Persuasion in Greece. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Zbigniew Nerczuk 52
  • Kenny, A. (2004). Ancient Philosophy: A New History of Western Philosophy, Volume I (Oxford Uni, Vol. 1). Oxford: Oxford Universit Press.
  • Kerferd, G.B. (1981a). The Future Direction of Sophistic Studies. Hermes. Zeitschrift Für Klassische Philologie, 44 (1), p. 1 6.
  • Kerferd, G.B. (1981b). The Sophistic Movement. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Nerczuk, Z. (2009). Miarą jest każdy z nas. Projekt zwolenników zmienności rzeczy w platońskim Teajtecie na tle myśli sofistycznej. [Each of Us is a Measure. The Project of Advocates of Change in Plato’s Theaetetus as Compared with Sophistic Thought] Toruń: Wydawnictwo UMK.
  • Nestle, W. (1940). Vom Mythos zum Logos. Die Selbstentfaltung des griechischen Denkens von Homer bis auf die Sophistik und Sokrates. (3rd ed.). Stuttgart: Alfred Kröner.
  • Palmer, J. (1999). Plato’s Reception of Parmenides. Oxford: Oxford. University Press.
  • Plato. (1864). Gorgias. (E.M. Cope, Trans.). Cambridge: Deighton, Bell and Co.
  • Plato. (1875). The Theaetetus of Plato, translated with introduction and brief explanatory notes by F.A. Paley. London: George Bell & Sons.
  • Plato. (1921). Theaetetus. Sophist. (H.N. Fowler, Trans.). Cambridge, Massachusets: Harvard University Press.
  • Plato. (1973). Theaetetus. (J. McDowell, Trans.). Oxford.
  • Schiappa, E. (2003). Protagoras and Logos: A Study in Greek Philosophy and Rhetoric. Columbia (South Carolina): The University of South Carolina Press.
  • Segal, C.P. (1962). Gorgias and the Psychology of the Logos. Harvard Studies in Classical
  • Philology, 66 (1962), p. 99 155.
  • Ueberweg, F. (1876). Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie des Alterthums (5th ed.). Berlin: E.S. Mittler & Sohn.
  • Untersteiner, M. (2009). Sofisti. Testimonianze e frammenti, a cura di M. Untersteiner. Milano: Bompiani.
  • Verdenius. (1981). Gorgias’ Doctrine of Deception. In G.B. Kerferd (Ed.), The Sophists and their Legacy (pp. 116 128). Wiesbaden: Steiner.
  • Zeller, E. (1856). Die Philosophie der Griechen in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwicklung (2nd ed., Vol. 1). Tübingen: R. Reisland.

anthropology ancient Greek philosophy Presocratics the sophists theory of cognition rhetoric

Message to:



© 2017 Adam Marszałek Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Projekt i wykonanie Pollyart