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Additional info for Lyotard and Greek Thought: Sophistry

Sample text

Not only the poets and lawmakers and rhetoricians, but also athletes and musicians were considered as being concerned with knowledge and wisdom. Both Heraclitus and Xenophanes, for example, regarded their predecessors to have been Homer and Hesiod, while athletes were held to exemplify the particular Greek virtue of mastery over oneself, which not only demanded knowledge, but itself was an essential element of wisdom. In the Laws, for example, the Athenian speaks in this regard of the same Iccus of Tarentum that Protagoras has included among the sophists.

Thus, in the Apology there are similar anxieties, similar concerns about appropriate social conduct, education and the formation of political character as those that shape the drama of the Clouds. In contrast, however, the pedagogical, ethical and political concerns that Socrates gives voice to are decisively and radically transformed by being explicitly subordinated to ontology, or, in other words they are subordinated to truth: prior to any ethical or political concern as such is the concern with truth, without which a proper ethical and political concern is not possible.

23 But not only can the philosophos and the sophistes be distinguished, it is also possible, as we observed above, to separate the sophistes and the sophos by virtue of the same criterion: the sophoi such as Parmenides and Heraclitus – in other words, those thinkers we now consider as being the Presocratics proper – like the philosophoi were concerned with truth and being, with beings in their being, without however seeing or saying it as such. Consequently the relation that they held towards truth and which conferred on them the name of sophoi – the wise – both properly indicates this relation and the deficiency it suffered from.

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