The NYU Department of Philosophy presents the following colloquium
Protagoras and the Art of Argument
Rachel Barney (Toronto)
Friday, October 27, 2023 @ 3:30-5:30pm
NYU Department of Philosophy
5 Washington Place, Rm 101, New York, NY 10003
This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required for non-NYU community members and must be received by 9:00am on October 27.
Diogenes Laertius tells us that the sophist Protagoras invented what became the art of philosophical argument. In particular, he was the first to use 'the Socratic form of argument’ — i.e. the elenchus, which quickly evolved into Platonic and Aristotelian dialectic. I argue that we have good evidence that this is true. Plato’s Protagoras shows him deploying what was plausibly the original form of the elenchus, and that this was characteristic of Protagoras is confirmed by some strange bits of other evidence. The original Protagorean form of dialectic was not just a ’sophistic’ exercise in refutation for its own sake but a vehicle for serious ethical and political inquiry, structured by the examination of literary texts. Socrates’/Plato's only innovation was to throw the text away.
Please note that this event will be in-person only.