Spin Doctors of the 5th Century

Topics: Rhetoric, Plato, Philosophy Pages: 5 (1826 words) Published: October 11, 2011
Nama : Kyaw Thu WinMata Kuliah: Sejarah Filsafat Yunani NIM :0211210111Pengajar: Dr. Setyo Wibowo
Tugas : Pengganti UTS Tanggal : 10 Oktober 2011

In the book Pre-Socratic Philosophy: “A Very Short Introduction” Catherine Osborne mentioned that the first principles of philosophy story, Per Socratics, ended by entering into a new period of philosophy by Socrates and Sophists. Most textbooks on Pre-Socratic philosophy allow some space to the Sophists even though Sophists were not really fitted in the first principles of philosophy story. Since the first principles story was all about the motives and interests of intellectual of the 6th and 5th centuries BC, Sophists were positively included as part of the intellectual position of the 5th century. The word ‘Sophist” means ‘professional cleverness’. During the fifth century, sophists were teachers, speakers, and philosophers who were paid to use rhetoric. For the first time in history, philosophy became a job to earn money by selling intellectual skills. They were spin doctors of that period. There were some famous sophists such as Protagoras, Gorgias, Hippias, Prodicus, and Antiphon, among others. They made their living by selling their intellectual skills to those who wanted to get a professional career and could afford to learn. Sophists offered an expensive private education that poor people could not get any education from them. They taught rhetorical skill: clever talk designed to enable their pupils to manipulate popular opinion in their favour. Furthermore, Sophists presented themselves as great facilitators of democratic procedures. However, their effect was only to secure advantages for their richness. They tried to cheat the poor while they were taking advantage from the rich. Therefore their deeds were undemocratic under the democratic ideology- anyone has the right to do anything whether they are rich or poor, whether they are high or low birth- which prevailed in 5th- century Athens. Therefore the question came up to be argued that “Are the Sophists a good thing or a bad thing?” This disagreement has raged more than 150 years. The result changes depend on the prevailing ideology of the contemporary world. The Sophists were generally condemned before 20th century. However, they were recovered from that bad reputation by the effects of Hitler who hold Plato’s potentially totalitarian political views, in the 1950s. Many liberal thinkers had come to doubt Plato who disagreed with the Sophist’s point of view, and to recognize Sophists as champions of liberalism. This outlook of 1950s even continues until nowadays. It is encouraged by a naive liberalism which believes that totalitarianism and democracy are simple black and white alternatives. However, the time is reached to the right time to reconsider on all the social exclusion, economic disadvantage, and political spin that what is theoretically democracy and quite undemocratic in reality. Public opinion can be a good guide to public policy only if the people are in a position to judge and can exercise their judgement freely. Nowadays, sophistry is one of the methods by which politicians disguise their policies in alien clothing, to make people believe in them as more desirable than they really are. Therefore, Spin doctors succeed best where democracy is the slogan. I. SOCRATES AND SOPHIST

In the 4th century BC, when the great Sophists were all dead, Plato wrote more than twenty dialogues which he created a character called Socrates, based on the real Socrates who had died in 399Bc. Many of these dialogues describe Socrates as who totally disagreed with the idea of the best Sophists of his day. These Plato’s imaginary conversations make a range of valid uncertainties about the political and moral principle implication of the activities which relative to the Sophists. Socrates opposed the idea of Sophists’ teaching...
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