Why does this happen? How can smart people take up positions that defy any reasonable logic? So if nothing else this essay serves as a kind of personal therapy session.
The Sophists to Secular Humanism He says somewhere that man is the measure of all things, of the existing, that they are, and of the non-existing, that they are not.
Their focus on nature contrasts with the emphasis in Indian and Chinese philosophy on salvation and morality and suggests the later development of science in Western philosophy. But eventually there was a reaction in Greek philosophy.
The reaction can be characterized as Greek Humanism. Humanism proper began in the Renaissance as a movement associated with Classical literature and Classical values. Someone merely familiar with the language of these sites would be surprised to learn that Renaissance humanists were Christians, or that the greatest Greek humanist, Socratesregarded his own work as a mission for his patron god, Apollo at Delphi.
These cases, which are historically central, show that humanism was originally a religious humanism. Some recent humanist organizations are clearly aware of this, for instance the American Ethical Unionwhich says, "Ethical Culture is a humanistic religious and educational movement inspired by the ideal that the supreme aim of human life is working to create a more humane society.
So what would humanism in general, religious and secular, ancient and modern, be about? We see the origin in the contrast with Greek natural philosophy. Humanism is a concern with issues relevant to the human condition. Since the human condition is, as Buddhism would say, birth, disease, old age, and death, one begins to wonder about the meaning, value, and purpose of life.
With such concerns, inquiry frequently turns, as Socrates puts it, to questions about the "just, beautiful, ugly, good, and bad. This was not always fair, since Mediaeval philosophy, like Mediaeval religion, was intensely concerned with the meaning and purpose of human life; but the Renaisssance humanists, with Greek literature returning from the Fall of Constantinoplegrew impatient.
Greek humanism did not actually begin with Socrates, but with the Sophists. Like modern rock stars, they even had advance men who would arrive in a city to advertise the coming of the Sophist and sign up students.
Some Sophists advertised themselves, as we hear with Hippias of Elis, who is supposed to have showed up at the Olympic Games saying that he could teach anyone how to make anything he was wearing. In general, however, the Sophists, especially the most important ones, like Protagoras of Abdera,or Gorgias of Leontini,claimed to teach something in particular, namely virtue.
What this is going to mean is not at first obvious. It must be the excellence of being human. What that is depends on a particularly Greek kind of answer: Human excellence is participation in the life of the city -- politics. But what are the Sophists going to be teaching about politics?
What is going to enable one to participate? That ends up meaning something very specific indeed, especially in democracies like Athens, with an Assembly of the male citizens: Without loudspeakers and with crowds often in the thousands, ancient public speaking required a loud and trained voice.
Benjamin Franklin, in a day when electronic amplification still didn't exist, was curious about accounts of ancient figures, like Julius Caesar, addressing entire armies.
Being the kind of curious character he was, Franklin put the matter to the test with the evangelist George Whitefield Both Streets were fill'd with his Hearers to a considerable Distance.
Being among the hindmost in Market Street, I had the Curiosity to learn how far he could be heard, by retiring backwards down the Street towards the [Delaware] River, and I found his Voice distinct till I came near Front-Street, when some Noise in that Street, obscur'd it.
Imagining then a Semi-Circle, of which my Distance should be the Radius, and that it were fill'd with Auditors, to each of whom I allow'd two square feet, I computed that he might well be heard by more than Thirty-Thousand.
This reconcil'd me to the Newspaper Accounts of his having preach'd to People in the Fields, and to the ancient Histories of Generals haranguing whole Armies, of which I had sometimes doubted.
The Sophists, therefore, in teaching speaking and rhetoric, had a substantial discipline on their hands. However, being heard and sounding good wasn't enough. The idea of public speaking is to convince others of one's views or proposals. Political speaking is thus most importantly about persuasion.
If one is going to teach persuasion, however, the question is then persuasion about what. Well, it would have to be persuasion about anything, if the Sophists are going to do the best job for any student or client. Teaching how to be persuasive about anything, however, began to give the Sophists a certain reputation.
To win any argument, one cannot always argue honestly. If the Sophists then teach how to argue dishonestly, this begins to give them the reputation of being unprincipled, opportunistic, and deceptive.
Because of this, a fallacious turn of argument today can still be called a sophism.Apology by Plato, part of the Internet Classics Archive. Commentary: Quite a few comments have been posted about Apology. Download: A 58k text-only version is available for download.
`` anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment." -- Robert Benchley, in Chips off the Old Benchley, [First published April ] We all know someone who’s intelligent, but who occasionally defends obviously bad ideas.
Why does this happen? How can smart people take up positions that defy any reasonable logic? Why the future doesn’t need us. Our most powerful 21st-century technologies – robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech – are threatening to make humans an endangered species.
 In sharp contrast, under regimes like feudalism (a form of society-with-markets) labour was not a commodity but the property of the landlord.
Indeed, labour had no price (i.e. no wage was paid) and its activities were commanded, or commandeered, by the person who had inherited the right to do so. Comments. Brother Nathanael December 29, @ pm. Dear Real Zionist News Family - I am actually totally exhausted from working on this interview even though I took off for a “prayer retreat” from last Tuesday until yesterday, Monday.