The Sophist

1606 WordsJun 20, 20187 Pages
The Sophist, written by Plato in 360 B.C.E. attempts to search for definitions through deep philosophical searching. The persons of dialogue in this piece are Theodorus, Theaetetus, Socrates (who mainly serves as a silent authority), and an Eleatic Stranger, who leads the majority of the dialogue. As the dialogue commences, Socrates asks the stranger what is thought of sophists, statesman, and philosophers in his home country of Italy. However, Socrates does not simply ask the Stranger to define the three, he instead asks him how the three types of men are regarded in his country- under one, two, or three names. As the men (Theaeteteus and the Stranger) debate the likes of the “angler” and the “sophist” they find that the definition of…show more content…
The art of the sophist, as described by Plato, is very complex and unique. His arts confuse both Theaecteteus and the Stranger because every time the men attempt to divide his characteristics they find themselves getting led down entirely different paths, unlike the monotonous angler. As they start discussing the sophist both men easily agree that he too is a hunter. However, as the Stranger points out, the sophist is a terrestrial hunter, one that is “a hired hunter of young men of wealth ” (Plato). At the end of their first division, the men believe they have not only uncovered the sophists art “[which] may be traced from the art of acquisition through exchange, trade, merchandise, to a merchandise of the soul which is concerned with speech and the knowledge of virtue” (Plato), but also the definition of the thing itself. Yet, the Stranger is not content, he asks Theaecteteus to discover another branch of the sophist’s genealogy. The Stranger asks to him to think into the sophist’s hunts with more detail. This time, he asks Theaecteteus to think of the sophist as someone who is engaged in everyday commerce. Branching off from ideas similar to this, the stranger asks him to think about the sophist in a variety of different ways (five different times). Each time, the division ends up taking them down varying paths with far different endings. On the Strangers final attempt, he makes a new division of art, this time he divides the
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