Sie sind auf Seite 1von 12

Dr. Tamer Nawar (T.Nawar@rug.

nl)

http://tamernawar.weebly.com

Heraclitus of Ephesus

Even in antiquity, Heraclitus (born c. 540 B.C.) was seen as obscure and
difficult to understand. He proposed an intricate world-view according to
which a divine logos governs the universe. Below is a selection of the
surviving fragments of Heraclitus. The following translations are from A
Presocratics Reader: Selected Fragments and Testimonia, P. Curd, R. D.
McKirahan [Hackett, 2011].
Although this logos holds always humans prove unable to understand it both before hearing it
and when they have first heard it. For although all things come to be [or, happen] in
accordance with this logos, humans are like the inexperienced when they experience such
words and deeds as I set out, distinguishing each thing in accordance with its nature (physis)
and saying how it is. But other people fail to notice what they do when awake, just as they
forget what they do while asleep. (Sextus Empiricus, Against the Mathematicians 7.132 = DK
22 B 1)
For this reason it is necessary to follow what is common. But although the logos is common,
most people live as if they had their own private understanding. (Sextus Empiricus, Against
the Mathematicians 7.133 = DK 22 B2)
We would call oxen happy when they find bitter vetch to eat. (Albertus Magnus, On
Vegetables 6.401 = DK 22 B4)
What is opposed brings together; the finest harmony [harmonia] is composed of things at
variance, and everything comes to be [or, occurs] in accordance with strife. (Aristotle,
Nicomachean Ethics 8.2 1155b4 = DK 22 B8)
Asses would choose rubbish rather than gold. (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 10.5 1176a7 =
DK 22 B9)
Things taken together are whole and not whole, <something that is> being brought together
and brought apart, in tune and out of tune; out of all things there comes a unity and out of a
unity all things. ([Aristotle], On the World 5 396b20 = DK 22 B10)
Upon those who step into the same rivers, different and again different waters flow.
(Arius Didymus, fr. 39.2 = Dox. Gr. 471.45 = DK 22 B12)
Pigs rejoice in mud more than in pure water. (Clement, Miscellanies 1.2.2 = DK 22 B13)
This kosmos, the same for all, none of gods nor humans made, but it was always and is and
shall be: an ever-living fire, kindled in measures and extinguished in measures. (Clement,
Miscellanies 5.103.3; tpc = DK 22 B30)

Dr. Tamer Nawar (T.Nawar@rug.nl)

http://tamernawar.weebly.com

For souls to become water is to die; for water to become earth is to die; but from earth, water
comes to be; from water, soul. (Clement, Miscellanies 6.17.2; tpc = DK 22 B36)
Pigs wash themselves in mud, birds in dust or ash. (Columella, On Agriculture 8.4.4 = DK 22
B37)
Much learning [polymathy] does not teach insight. Otherwise it would have taught Hesiod
and Pythagoras and moreover Xenophanes and Hecataeus. (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the
Philosophers 9.1 = DK 22 B 40)
The wise is one (to sophon), to know the intelligent plan (gnm) by which all things are
steered through all. (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 9.1; tpc = DK 22 B41)
Heraclitus said that Homer deserved to be expelled from the contests and flogged, and
Archilochus likewise. (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 9.1 = DK 22 B42)
Willful violence [hubris] must be quenched more than a fire. (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the
Philosophers 9.3 = DK 22 B43)
The people must fight for the law as for the city wall. (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the
Philosophers 9.2 = DK 22 B44)
You would not discover the limits of the soul although you travelled every road: so deep a
logos does it have. (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 9.7 = DK 22 B45)
[He said that] conceit is a holy disease3 [and that] sight tells falsehoods. (Diogenes Laertius,
Lives of the Philosophers 9.7 = DK 22 B46)
Let us not make random conjectures about the greatest matters. (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of
the Philosophers 9.73 = DK 22 B47)
The name of the bow is life, but its work is death. (Etymologium Magnum sv bios = DK 22
B48)
We step into and we do not step into the same rivers. We are and we are not. (Heraclitus
Homericus, Homeric Questions 24 = DK 22 B49a)
Listening not to me, but to the logos, it is wise to agree that all things are one. (Hippolytus,
Refutation of All Heresies 9.9.1 = DK B50)
They do not understand how, though at variance with itself, it agrees with itself. It is a
backwards-turning attunement like that of the bow and lyre. (Hippolytus, Refutation of All
Heresies 9.9.2 = DK 22 B51)

Dr. Tamer Nawar (T.Nawar@rug.nl)

http://tamernawar.weebly.com

Most mens teacher is Hesiod. They are sure he knew most thingsa man who could not
recognize day and night; for they are one. (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 9.10.2 = DK
22 B57)
The road up and the road down are one and the same. (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies
9.10.4 = DK 22 B60)
The sea is the purest and most polluted water: to fishes drinkable and bringing safety, to
humans undrinkable and destructive. (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 9.10.5 = DK 22
B61)
Thunderbolt steers all things. (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 9.10.7 = DK 22 B64)
Fire is want and satiety. (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 9.10.7 = DK 22 B65)
God is day and night, winter and summer, war and peace, satiety and hunger, but changes
the way <fire,(?)> when mingled with perfumes, is named according to the scent of each.
(Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 9.10.8 = DK 22 B67)
Fire lives the death of earth and ar lives the death of fire, water lives the death of ar, earth
that of water. (Maximus of Tyre, 41.4 = DK 22 B76)
It is necessary to know that war is common and justice is strife and that all things happen in
accordance with strife and necessity. (Origen, Against Celsus 6.42 = DK 22 B80)
The most beautiful of apes is ugly in comparison with the human race. (Plato, Hippias Major
289a34 = DK 22 B82)
The wisest of humans will appear as an ape in comparison with a god in respect to wisdom,
beauty, and all other things. (Plato, Hippias Major 289b45 = DK 22 B83)
Changing it rests. (Plotinus, Enneads 4.8.1 = DK 22 B84a)
It is difficult to fight against anger, for whatever it wants it buys at the price of the soul.
(Plutarch, Life of Coriolanus 22.2 = DK 22 B85)
The same thing is both living and dead, and the waking and the sleeping, and young and old;
for these things transformed are those, and those transformed back again are these. (PseudoPlutarch, Consolation to Apollonius 106E = DK 22 B88)
For the waking there is one common world, but when asleep each person turns away to a
private one. (Pseudo-Plutarch, On Superstition 166c = DK 22 B89)
All things are an exchange for fire and fire for all things, as goods for gold and gold for goods.
(Plutarch, On the E at Delphi 338de = DK 22 B90)

Dr. Tamer Nawar (T.Nawar@rug.nl)

http://tamernawar.weebly.com

[It is not possible to step twice into the same river]. . . . It scatters and again comes together,
and approaches and recedes. (Plutarch, On the E at Delphi 392b = DK 22 B91)
I searched [or: inquired into] myself. (Plutarch, Against Colotes 1118C = DK 22 B101)
To god all things are beautiful and good and just, but humans have supposed some unjust
and others just. (Porphyry, Notes on Homer, on Iliad 4.4 = DK 22 B102)
What understanding (noos) or intelligence (phrn) have they? They put their trust in popular
bards and take the mob for their teacher, unaware that most people are bad, and few are
good. (Proclus, Commentary on Platos Alcibiades I 117, Westerink = DK 22 B104)
Of all those whose accounts (logoi) I have heard, no one reaches the point of recognizing that
what is wise is set apart from all. (Stobaeus, Selections 3.1.174 = DK 22 B108)
It is not better for humans to get all they want. (Stobaeus, Selections 3.1.176 = DK 22 B110)
Disease makes health pleasant and good, hunger satiety, weariness rest. (Stobaeus, Selections
3.1.178 = DK 22 B111)
Right thinking (sphronein) is the greatest excellence, and wisdom (sophia) is to speak the
truth and act in accordance with nature (physis) while paying attention to it. (Stobaeus,
Selections 3.1.178 = DK 22 B112)
Those who speak with understanding (noos) must rely firmly on what is common to all as a
city must rely on [its?] law, and much more firmly. For all human laws are nourished by one
law, the divine law; for it has as much power as it wishes and is sufficient for all and is still
left over. (Stobaeus, Selections 3.1.179 = DK 22 B114)
It belongs to all people to know themselves and to think rightly (sphronein). (Stobaeus,
Selections 3.5.6 = DK 22 B116)
A man when drunk is led by a boy, stumbling and not knowing where he goes, since his soul
is moist. (Stobaeus, Selections 3.5.7 = DK 22 B117)
Gleam of light: the dry soul, wisest (sophtate) and best. (Stobaeus, Selections 3.5.8 = DK 22
B118)
A persons character is his divinity [daimn]. (Stobaeus, Selections 4.40.23 = DK 22 B119)
Nature (physis) loves to hide. (Themistius, Orations 5.69 = DK 22 B123)
The most beautiful kosmos is a pile of things poured out at random. (Theophrastus,
Metaphysics 15 = DK 22 B124)
Even the Kyken falls apart if it is not stirred. (Theophrastus, On Vertigo 9; tpc = DK 22
B125)

Dr. Tamer Nawar (T.Nawar@rug.nl)

http://tamernawar.weebly.com

The Ship of Theseus and the Growing Argument

The ship on which Theseus sailed with the youths and returned in safety, the thirty-oared
galley, was preserved by the Athenians down to the time of Demetrius Phalereus. They
took away the old timbers from time to time, and put new and sound ones in their
places, so that the vessel became a standing illustration for the philosophers in the
mooted question of growth, some declaring that it remained the same, others that it was
not the same vessel. (Plut. Thes. 23)

The argument about growth is an old one, for, as Chrysippus says, it is propounded by
Epicharmus. Yet when the Academics hold that the puzzle is not altogether easy or
straightforward, these people [sc. The Stoics] have laid many charges against them and
denounced them as destroying our and contravening our conceptions. Yet they
themselves not only fail to save our conceptions but also pervert sense-perception. For the
argument is a simple one and these people grant its premises: all substances are in flux
and motion, releasing some things from themselves and receiving others which reach
them from elsewhere; the numbers or quantities which these are added to or subtracted
from do not remain the same but become different as the aforementioned arrivals and
departures cause the substance to be transformed; the prevailing convention is wrong to
call these processes of growth and decay: rather they should be called generation and
destruction, since they transform the thing from what it is into something else, whereas
growing and diminishing are affections of a body which serves as substrate and persists
(Plut. Comm. not. 1083a7c2 = Long and Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers 28 A12).

Dr. Tamer Nawar (T.Nawar@rug.nl)

http://tamernawar.weebly.com

Parmenides of Elea
According to some reports, Parmenides of Elea (born. c. 515 B.C.) studied
with Xenophanes or the Pythagoreans. He wrote a poem, On Nature,
composed of 3 parts: the Proem; the Way of Truth (altheia); and the Way
of Opinion (doxa). In the Way of Truth, he argues for a number of starting
claims: that what-is-not cannot be, and cannot be thought of; that the senses
are deceptive; that what-is must be; and that there is no change or plurality.
The following translations are from A Presocratics Reader: Selected Fragments
and Testimonia, P. Curd, R. D. McKirahan [Hackett, 2011].
But come now, I will tell youand you, when you have heard the story, bring it safely
away which are the only routes of inquiry that are for thinking: the one, that is and
that it is not possible for it not to be, is the path of Persuasion (for it attends upon
Truth), the other, that it is not and that it is right that it not be, this indeed I declare to
you to be a path entirely unable to be investigated: For neither can you know what is not
(for it is not to be accomplished) nor can you declare it.
(Proclus, Commentary on Platos Timaeus 1.345.18; lines 38: Simplicius, Commentary on
Aristotles Physics 116.28; tmpc = DK 28 B2)
. . . for the same thing is for thinking and for being.
(Clement, Miscellanies 6.23; Plotinus, Enneads 5.1.8 = DK 28 B3)
But gaze upon things which although absent are securely present to the mind. For you
will not cut off what-is from clinging to what-is, neither being scattered everywhere in
every way in order nor being brought together.
(Clement, Miscellanies 5.15 = DK 28 B4)
It is right both to say and to think that it is what-is: for it can be, but nothing is not:
these things I bid you to ponder. For I < 3 > you from this first route of inquiry, and
then from that, on which mortals, knowing nothing, wander, two-headed: for
helplessness in their breasts steers their wandering mind. They are borne along deaf and
blind alike, dazed, hordes without judgment for whom to be and not to be are thought to
be the same and not the same, and the path of all is backward-turning.
(Simplicius, Commentary on Aristotles Physics 86.2728; 117.413; tmpc = DK 28 B6)
For in no way may this prevail, that things that are not are; but you, hold your thought
back from this route of inquiry and do not let habit, rich in experience, compel you along
this route to direct an aimless eye and an echoing ear and tongue, but judge by reasoning
(logos) the much-contested examination spoken by me. (lines 12: Plato, Sophist 242a;
lines 26: Sextus Empiricus, Against the Mathematicians 7.114; tmpc = DK 28 B7)

Dr. Tamer Nawar (T.Nawar@rug.nl)

http://tamernawar.weebly.com

. . . Just one story of a route is still left: that it is. On this [route] there are signs very
many, that what-is is ungenerated and imperishable, a whole of a single kind, unshaken,
and complete. Nor was it ever, nor will it be, since it is now, all together [5] one, holding
together: For what birth will you seek out for it? How and from what did it grow? From
what-is-not I will allow you neither to say nor to think: For it is not to be said or thought
that it is not. What need would have roused it, later or earlier, having begun from
nothing, to grow? [10] In this way it is right either fully to be or not. Nor will the force
of true conviction ever permit anything to come to be beside it from what-is-not. For this
reason neither coming to be nor perishing did Justice allow, loosening her shackles, but
she [Justice] holds it fast. And the decision about these things is in this: [15] is or is not;
and it has been decided, as is necessary, to leave the one [route] unthought of and
unnamed (for it is not a true route), so that the other [route] is and is genuine. But how
can what-is be hereafter? How can it come to be? For if it came to be, it is not, not even if
it is sometime going to be. [20] Thus coming-to-be has been extinguished and perishing
cannot be investigated. Nor is it divisible, since it is all alike, and not at all more in any
way, which would keep it from holding together, or at all less, but it is all full of what-is.
Therefore it is all holding together; for what-is draws near to what-is. [25] But
unchanging in the limits of great bonds it is without starting or ceasing, since coming-tobe and perishing have wandered very far away; and true trust drove them away.
Remaining the same and in the same and by itself it lies and so remains there fixed; for
mighty Necessity [30] holds it in bonds of a limit which holds it in on all sides. For this
reason it is right for what-is to be not incomplete; for it is not lacking; otherwise, what-is
would be in want of everything. What is for thinking is the same as that on account of
which there is thought. For not without what-is, on which it depends, having been
solemnly pronounced, [35] will you find thinking; for nothing else either is or will be
except what-is, since precisely this is what Fate shackled to be whole and changeless.
Therefore it has been named all things that mortals, persuaded that they are true, have
posited both to come to be and to perish, to be and not, [40] and to change place and
alter bright colour. But since the limit is ultimate, it [namely, what-is] is complete from
all directions like the bulk of a ball well-rounded from all sides equally matched in every
way from the middle; for it is right for it to be not in any way greater or lesser than in
another. [45] For neither is there what-is-notwhich would stop it from reaching the
samenor is there any way in which what-is would be more than what-is in one way and
in another way less, since it is all inviolable; for equal to itself from all directions, it meets
uniformly with its limits. At this point, I end for you my reliable account and thought
[50] about truth. From here on, learn mortal opinions, listening to the deceitful order of
my words. For they established two forms to name in their judgments, of which it is not
right to name onein this they have gone astray and they distinguished things
opposite in body, and established signs [55] apart from one anotherfor one, the
aetherial fire of flame, mild, very light, the same as itself in every direction, but not the
same as the other; but that other one, in itself is oppositedark night, a dense and heavy
body. I declare to you all the ordering as it appears, [60] so that no mortal judgment may
ever overtake you.
(Simplicius, Commentary on Aristotles Physics 145.1146.25 [lines 152]; 39.19 [lines
5061]; tmpc = DK 28 B8)

Dr. Tamer Nawar (T.Nawar@rug.nl)

http://tamernawar.weebly.com

Zeno of Elea
Zeno of Elea (born c. 490 BC) was a follower of Parmenides who offered
some powerful arguments against the possibility of motion or change.
Translations from J. Barnes (ed.), The Complete Works of Aristotle.
The same method should also be adopted in replying to those who ask, in the terms of Zenos
argument, whether we admit that before any distance can be traversed half the distance must be
traversed, that these half-distances are infinite in number, and that it is impossible to traverse
distances infinite in numberor some put the same argument in another form, and would have
us grant that in the time during which a motion is in progress we should first count the halfmotion for every half-distance that we get, so that we have the result that when the whole
distance is traversed we have counted an infinite number, which is admittedly impossible.
Aristotle Physics 8.8, 263a411
Zenos arguments about motion, which cause so much trouble to those who try to answer them,
are four in number. The first asserts the non-existence of motion on the ground that that which is
in locomotion must arrive at the half-way stage before it arrives at the goal []
The second is the so-called Achilles, and it amounts to this, that in a race the quickest runner can
never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point whence the pursued
started, so that the slower must always hold a lead. This argument is the same in principle as that
which depends on bisection, though it differs from it in that the spaces with which we have
successively to deal are not divided into halves. The result of the argument is that the slower is
not overtaken; but it proceeds along the same lines as the bisection argument (for in both a
division of the space in a certain way leads to the result that the goal is not reached, though the
Achilles goes further in that it affirms that even the runner most famed for his speed must fail in
his pursuit of the slowest), so that the solution too must be the same. And the claim that that
which holds a lead is never overtaken is false: it is not overtaken while it holds a lead; but it is
overtaken nevertheless if it is granted that it traverses the finite distance. These then are two of his
arguments.
The third is that already given above, to the effect that the flying arrow is at rest, which result
follows from the assumption that time is composed of moments: if this assumption is not
granted, the conclusion will not follow.
The fourth argument is that concerning equal bodies which move alongside equal bodies in the
stadium from opposite directionsthe ones from the end of the stadium, the others from the
middleat equal speeds, in which he thinks it follows that half the time is equal to its double.
The fallacy consists in requiring that a body travelling at an equal speed travels for an equal time
past a moving body and a body of the same size at rest. That is false. E.g. let the stationary equal
bodies be AA; let BB be those starting from the middle of the As (equal in number and in
magnitude to them); and let CC be those starting from the end (equal in number and magnitude
to them, and equal in speed to the Bs). Now it follows that the first B and the first C are at the
end at the same time, as they are moving past one another. And it follows that the C has passed
all the As and the B half; so that the time is half, for each of the two is alongside each for an
equal time. And at the same time it follows that the first B has passed all the Cs. For at the same
time the first B and the first C will be at opposite ends, being an equal time alongside each of the
Bs as alongside each of the As, as he says, because both are an equal time alongside the As.
Aristotle Physics 6.9, 239b5240a17 (= DK 29 A25, 26, 27, 28)

Dr. Tamer Nawar (T.Nawar@rug.nl)

http://tamernawar.weebly.com

Protagoras of Abdera
The Sophists professed to be wise and to be capable of teaching wisdom and
the best way of life. They often travelled from city to city, teaching rhetoric,
politics, and how to be successful in life. They often commanded high fees
for their expertise. Much of our evidence concerning the Sophists comes
from Plato, who criticised them for seeking money rather than the truth and
took them to be incapable of teaching virtue or indeed understanding its
nature. Protagoras of Abdera (c. 490420) was the most well known of the
Sophists. He famously claimed that man is the measure and seems to have
defended a number of novel and interesting theses.
[T1] Protagoras was the first to declare that there are two mutually opposed arguments
on any subject.
Diogenes Laertius Lives of the Philosophers 9.51 (= DK 80 A1)
[T2] Protagoras made the weaker and stronger argument and taught his students to
blame and praise the same person.
Stephanus of Byzantium Ethnica (= DK 80 A21)
[T3] Protagoras took it from there and said, Young man, this is what you will get if you
study with me: The very day you start, you will go home a better man, and the same
thing will happen the day after. Every day, day after day, you will get better and better.
Plato Protagoras 318ab (in J. Cooper (ed.), Plato: Complete Works [Hackett])
[T4] If Hippocrates comes to me he will not experience what he would if he studied
with some other sophist. The others abuse young men, steering them back again, against
their will, into subjects the likes of which they have escaped from at school, teaching
them arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, music, and poetry at this point he gave
Hippias a significant look but if he comes to me he will learn only what he has come
for. What I teach is sound deliberation, both in domestic matters how best to manage
ones household, and in public affairshow to realize ones maximum potential for
success in political debate and action.
Plato Protagoras 318e319a (in J. Cooper (ed.), Plato: Complete Works [Hackett])
[T5] Protagoras claimed that: man is the measure of all things: of those which are, that
they are, and of those which are not, that they are not (
, ,
).
Plato Theaetetus 152a (in J. Cooper (ed.), Plato: Complete Works [Hackett])

Dr. Tamer Nawar (T.Nawar@rug.nl)

http://tamernawar.weebly.com

[T6] Ill tell you the kind of thing that might be said by those people who propose it as a
rule that whatever a man thinks at any time is the truth for him [] Whatever the
individual judges by means of perception is true for him.
Plato Theaetetus 158e, 161d (in J. Cooper (ed.), Plato: Complete Works [Hackett])
[T7] Whatever in any city is regarded as just and admirable is just and admirable, in that
city and for so long as that convention maintains itself.
Plato Theaetetus 167c (in J. Cooper (ed.), Plato: Complete Works [Hackett])
[T8] Protagoras has it that human beings are the measure of all things, of those that are
that they are, and of those that are not that they are not (
, ,
).
Sextus Empiricus Outlines of Pyrrhonism 1.216 (trans. J. Annas and J. Barnes
[CUP])
[T9] Some people have also included Protagoras of Abdera in the chorus of philosophers
who do away with the criterion, since he says that all appearances and opinions are true,
and that truth is among the things in relation to something, given the fact that everything
that has appeared to or been opined by someone is immediately the case in relation to
that person. At any rate, at the beginning of his Downthrowers he announced A human
being is measure of all things, of the things that are that they are, and of the things that
are not that they are not ( ,
, ).
Sextus Empiricus Against the Logicians 7.601 (trans. R. Bett [CUP])
[T10] I consider myself to be such a person, uniquely qualified to assist others in
becoming noble and good, and worth the fee that I charge and even more, so much so
that even my students agree. This is why I charge according to the following system: a
student pays the full price only if he wishes to; otherwise, he goes into a temple, states
under oath how much he thinks my lessons are worth, and pays that amount.
Plato Protagoras 328bc (in J. Cooper (ed.), Plato: Complete Works [Hackett])
[T11] Among fallacious arguments the one which the Greeks call seems to
be by far the most fallacious. Such arguments some of our own philosophers have rather
appropriately termed reciproca, or convertible. The fallacy arises from the fact that the
argument that is presented may be turned in the opposite direction and used against the
one who has offered it, and is equally strong for both sides of the question. An example is
the well-known argument which Protagoras, the keenest of all sophists, is said to have
used against his pupil Euathlus.
For a dispute arose between them and an altercation as to the fee which had been agreed
upon, as follows: Euathlus, a wealthy young man, was desirous of instruction in oratory
and the pleading of causes. He became a pupil of Protagoras and promised to pay him a
large sum of money, as much as Protagoras had demanded. He paid half of the amount
at once, before beginning his lessons, and agreed to pay the remaining half on the day

Dr. Tamer Nawar (T.Nawar@rug.nl)

http://tamernawar.weebly.com

when he first pleaded before jurors and won his case. Afterwards, when he had been for
some little time a pupil and follower of Protagoras, and had in fact made considerable
progress in the study of oratory, he nevertheless did not undertake any cases. And when
the time was already getting long, and he seemed to be acting thus in order not to pay the
rest of the fee, Protagoras formed what seemed to him at the time a wily scheme; he
determined to demand his pay according to the contract, and brought suit against
Euathlus.
And when they had appeared before the jurors to bring forward and to contest the case,
Protagoras began as follows: Let me tell you, most foolish of youths, that in either event
you will have to pay what I am demanding, whether judgment be pronounced for or
against you. For if the case goes against you, the money will be due me in accordance
with the verdict, because I have won; but if the decision be in your favour, the money
will be due me according to our contract, since you will have won a case.
To this Euathlus replied: I might have met this sophism of yours, tricky as it is, by not
pleading my own cause but employing another as my advocate. But I take greater
satisfaction in a victory in which I defeat you, not only in the suit, but also in this
argument of yours. So let me tell you in turn, wisest of masters, that in either event I shall
not have to pay what you demand, whether judgment be pronounced for or against me.
For if the jurors decide in my favour, according to their verdict nothing will be due you,
because I have won; but if they give judgment against me, by the terms of our contract I
shall owe you nothing, because I have not won a case.
Then the jurors, thinking that the plea on both sides was uncertain and insoluble, for fear
that their decision, for whichever side it was rendered, might annul itself, left the matter
undecided and postponed the case to a distant day. Thus a celebrated master of oratory
was refuted by his youthful pupil with his own argument, and his cleverly devised
sophism failed.
Aulus Gellius Attic Nights 5.10 (trans. J. C. Role [Loeb Classical Library])

Platos Criticisms of Protagorean Relativism in the Theaetetus


[T12] SOCRATES: He says, does he not, that things are for every man what they seem
to him to be?
THEODORUS: Yes, that is what he says []
SOCRATES: What then, Protagoras, are we to make of your argument? Are we to say
that all men, on every occasion, judge what is true? Or that they judge sometimes truly
and sometimes falsely? Whichever we say, it comes to the same thing, namely, that men
do not always judge what is true; that human judgments are both true and false. For
think, Theodorus, would you, would anyone of the school of Protagoras be prepared to
contend that no one ever thinks his neighbour is ignorant or judging falsely?
THEODORUS: No, thats not a thing one could believe, Socrates.
SOCRATES: And yet it is to this that our theory has been driven this theory that man
is the measure of all things.
THEODORUS: How is that?
SOCRATES: Well, suppose you come to a decision in your own mind and then express a
judgment about something to me. Let us assume with Protagoras that your judgment is

Dr. Tamer Nawar (T.Nawar@rug.nl)

http://tamernawar.weebly.com

true for you. But isnt it possible that the rest of us may criticize your verdict? Do we
always agree that your judgment is true? Or does there rise up against you, every time, a
vast army of persons who think the opposite, who hold that your decisions and your
thoughts are false?
THEODORUS: Heaven knows they do, Socrates, in their thousands and tens of
thousands, as Homer says, and give me all the trouble that is humanly possible.
SOCRATES: Then do you want us to say that you are then judging what is true for
yourself, but false for the tens of thousands?
THEODORUS: It looks as if that is what we must say, according to the theory, at any
rate.
SOCRATES: And what of Protagoras himself? Supposing he himself did not believe that
man is the measure, any more than the majority of people (who indeed do not believe it),
must he not say that this Truth which he wrote is true for no one? On the other hand,
suppose he believed it himself, but the majority of men do not agree with him; then you
see to begin with the more those to whom it does not seem to be the truth
outnumber those to whom it does, so much the more it isnt than it is?
THEODORUS: That must be so, if it is going to be or not be according to the
individual judgment.
SOCRATES: Secondly, it has this most exquisite feature: Protagoras admits, I presume,
that the contrary opinion about his own opinion (namely, that it is false) must be true,
seeing he agrees that all men judge what is.
THEODORUS: Undoubtedly.
SOCRATES: And in conceding the truth of the opinion of those who think him wrong,
he is really admitting the falsity of his own opinion?
THEODORUS: Yes, inevitably.
SOCRATES: But for their part the others do not admit that they are wrong?
THEODORUS: No.
SOCRATES: But Protagoras again admits this judgment to be true, according to his
written doctrine?
THEODORUS: So it appears.
SOCRATES: It will be disputed, then, by everyone, beginning with Protagoras or
rather, it will be admitted by him, when he grants to the person who contradicts him that
he judges truly when he does that, even Protagoras himself will be granting that
neither a dog nor the man in the street is the measure of anything at all which he has
not learned. Isnt that so?
THEODORUS: It is so.
SOCRATES: Then since it is disputed by everyone, the Truth of Protagoras is not true
for anyone at all, not even for himself?
Plato Theaetetus 170a, 170c171c (in J. Cooper (ed.), Plato: Complete Works
[Hackett])