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Thrasymachus

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Saved by Tristan Towne
on September 29, 2009 at 10:36:43 pm
 

Thrasymachus

Circa 459 BCE.

Thrasymachus of Chalcedon, who lived during the 5th century BCE, was among the group of travelling philosopher-teachers known in Greece as Sophists.   By 427, Thrasymachus had made a name for himself as a teacher of rhetoric and also a speechwriter.  Most of what is known about Thrasymachus comes from Plato’s interpreted characterization of him in Republic, where his critique of justice creates a representative platform for the moral and political views of the Sophistic Enlightenment that occurred in Athens in the late 5th century.

He was a well-known Sophist, a teacher of Rhetoric, and he was a student of both Plato and Isocrates.  He made the distinction between philosophy and sophistry that the philosopher sacrificed everything, including eloquence, for the truth. On the contrary, he noted that the sophist sacrificed the truth for eloquence and persuasion.  This premise leads to the profession of Sophistry being regarded as being shallow and it began to be regarded negatively.  It could be said that Thrasymachus could be considered part of the reason that rhetoric fell under suspicion as to its validity in the pursuit of truth.

Thrasymachus was characterized in Republic as a passionate dissenter against Socrates’ conclusions regarding justice.  Thrasymachus is shown in the text to be passionate, almost to the point of violence, in his rhetorical exchange with Socrates.  He goes so far as to advocate that injustice far outweighs justice, to which Socrates exposes the weaknesses of his argument.  Thrasymachus famously blushes once Socrates has “tamed him.”

 

Thrasymachus’s assertions in the dialogue reflect his notion that all societies are divided into ruling and ruled subgroups.  He purports that there are three kinds of regime: democracy, tyranny, and oligarchy.  It is in this dialogue that he exposes that he does not view the poor, slaves and women to be politically important, which gives Socrates an opportunity to expose the weakness of his claims.  Though Thrasymachus is a skilled rhetorician, he is unable to avoid losing his argument to Socrates.  

 

 

Sources

 

 

Garrett, Jan. "Polemarchus, Thrasymachus, Glaucon and Socrates." Western Kentucky Intro. to Philosophy (2002): n. pag. Web. 28 Sep 2009. http://www.wku.edu/~jan.garrett/r1&2vws.htm#Thras.

 

Plato. Republic. Trans. G.M.A. Grube (rev. C.D.C. Reeve). Indianapolis: Hackett, 1992.

Rauhut, Nils. "Thrasymachus." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web. <http://www.iep.utm.edu/thrasymachus/>. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrasymachus

"Thrasymachus." Wikipedia. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrasymachus>.

 

 

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