Plato’s “Protagoras”

Less cruel to Protagoras than I remember, but very funny in places nevertheless. Interesting prelude to utilitarianism at 356B, where Socrates, arguing (as usual) that people act badly through ignorance, suggests a calculus whereby actions can be considered good or bad by weighing up all the benefits and drawbacks, on both short and long terms, and seeing which side the balance falls. He seems to ignore, however, the question of whether an action is good or bad for oneself or for others: in this argument robbery would be a good thing if it results overall (once one’s factored in the fear and risk of punishment) in benefits to oneself; the suffering of the victim is ignored.
Interesting also how Socrates and Protagoras both end up in positions opposite to those with which they began the dialogue; unique as far as I can remember for Socrates to change his mind. Does this show Plato’s respect for Protagoras, or a playful turn – the arguments in this dialogue are particularly duellistic, ad hominem?

This entry was posted in Reading and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s