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The Sophists Paperback – 21 Apr 1977

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Product details

  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; New Ed edition (21 April 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780521096669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521096669
  • ASIN: 0521096669
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.9 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 194,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'This book, like the age it reflects, is a brilliant achievement. Professor Guthrie's study combines remarkable erudition and inclusiveness of scope with a lucis and readable style … Professor Guthrie succeeds in giving us the most balanced and perceptive treatment of fifth-century thought that has yet been written.' American Historical Review

'Once again the qualities for which the first two volumes have justly been praised are in evidence. Chief among these qualities are the lucidity of the author's writing, the judiciousness of his opinions and the comprehensiveness of his treatment … Other historians of Greek philosophy have impressed their philosophical personality more firmly on their accounts. But for those who wish their guide above all to be sound, Professor Guthrie is incontestably their man.' The Times Literary Supplement

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The Presocratic philosophers dealt to a large extent with questions which might be said to have been settled long ago, and to posses now an interest which is purely historical. Read the first page
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Monkeydust on 14 Mar. 2005
Format: Paperback
If you're looking for a simple overview of the Sophists in 5th century Athens, then this book is not for you. That is not, however, to say that this is in any way a "bad" book; quite the opposite, in fact.
Guthrie deals at length and in detail with pretty much all the major issues concerning the Sophists in democratic Athens. What he has produced is a balanced and insightful effort towards understanding them and their ideas, often giving a very interesting - if somewhat necessarily speculative - viewpoint on the issues at hand. His elucidation of the Sophists' thinking goes some way to breaking down the stereotypes of them presented in our Ancient sources, especially Plato, and makes it clear that Ancient Greek philsophy was far more advanced than we at first give it credit for.
His style is clear and consistent, though at times he gives perhaps too much information for the non-specialist. His sources are well researched, and what shines through in this work, more than anything, is the extent of Guthrie's knowledge on the topic, which must have been second to none in his day.
For the casual reader this book might not be ideal. It's certainly interesting, but it can be heavy-going if one does not have at least some broad background information on 5th century Athens and Ancient Greek culture in general. Perhaps Guthrie also gives too much information for the layman - in particular I found the chapter regarding "nomos" and "physis" to be a bit long-winded, though this doesn't detract from the quality of the book (it's intended to be an in-depth study).
This is an excellent work, in my view, from a scholar of great erudition and experience.
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By Adam PR on 17 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Many thanks.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Great Focus 8 Aug. 2011
By G. D. Albear - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great way to have Professor Guthrie's Magnus Opus available to the public. More specifically, it allows me as a teacher of the philosophy of education to introduce future teachers to the truth relative to this very interesting and defamed group of ancient teachers. The text starts with a definition of what the word Sophist means etymologically, then works through an explanation of the professional status of the sophists and their methods ending the definitional construct with the historic fate of the movement at the hands of Plato and Aristotle.

Professor Guthrie then begins to discuss the history and particulars of the major concepts of the sophists, explaining first Nomos and then Physis and the men within the sophistical movement that represented these concepts. The focus is on the explication of the differences between the concepts as well as their similarities through a view of the major figures of the movement starting with Protagoras.

Guthrie then enters the perspective of the realists Thucydides, Glaucon etc. and begins a more in-depth look at the Physis through discussions on Callicles and Antiphon, to name but a few. Guthrie continues the work by looking at the idea of the social compact vis-a-vis identity and equality issues, a focus that was way ahead of its time in regards to these particular types of works on the history of philosophy and ideology.

He then turns to a discussion of the relativity of values and its effect on ethical theory, rhetoric, and philosophical concepts. He continues the discourse on the subject through a look at rationalism in religious theories such as agnosticism and atheism and devotes an entire chapter (X to be specific in this text) to the question, "Can Virtue be Taught?"

The rest of the book,focuses on the men themselves from Protagoras to Lycophron and ends with some of the anonymous writes of the movement.

A focused bibliography and some great indexes finish the tome.

Like all his other books on Philosophy and Intellectual History the work is phenomenal, comprehensive, unique, and clear. A must READ! for anyone attempting to understand the subject.

G.D. Albear, Ph.D.
fascinating 10 Nov. 2013
By Amanda H. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book gives a comprehensive guide to the world and thought of the sophists including their views on the question of whether virtue (arete) can be taught.
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