Sofisti - Sophists of Ancient Greece - Sophists and Democracy

Sophists and Democracy

The sophists' rhetorical techniques were extremely useful for any young nobleman looking for public office. The societal roles the Sophists filled had important ramifications for the Athenian political system at large. The historical context provides evidence for their considerable influence, as Athens became more and more democratic during the period in which the Sophists were most active.

The Sophists certainly were not directly responsible for Athenian democracy, but their cultural and psychological contributions played an important role in its growth. They contributed to the new democracy in part by espousing expertise in public deliberation, since this was the foundation of decision-making, which allowed and perhaps required a tolerance of the beliefs of others. This liberal attitude would naturally have precipitated into the Athenian assembly as Sophists acquired increasingly high-powered clients. Continuous rhetorical training gave the citizens of Athens "the ability to create accounts of communal possibilities through persuasive speech". This was extremely important for the democracy, as it gave disparate and sometimes superficially unattractive views a chance to be heard in the Athenian assembly.

In addition, Sophists had great impact on the early development of law, as the sophists were the first lawyers in the world. Their status as lawyers was a result of their extremely developed argumentation skills.

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Sofisti - Sophists of Ancient Greece
... The Greek word sophist (sophistēs) derives from the words sophia, and sophos, meaning “wisdom” or “wise” since the time of Homer and was originally used to describe expertise in a particular knowledge or ... refers to the seven sages as "performers of political poetry." Sophists were philosopher-teachers who traveled around Greek cities claiming to teach their students ... Although there were numerous differences among Sophist teachings, a prominent element in their philosophy was skepticism ...

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