Protagoras’ Challenge to Socrates

One of the central challenges to contemporary political philosophy is the apparent impossibility of arriving at any commonly agreed upon “truths.”  To understand the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary radical relativism, scholars turn to the sophists of antiquity—the most famous and challenging of whom is Protagoras. In Sophistry and Political Philosophy: Protagoras’ Challenge to Socrates (University of Chicago Press, 2016), Behrakis Professor of Hellenic Political Studies Robert C. Bartlett provides the first close reading of Plato’s two-part presentation of Protagoras. Bartlett’s critical interpretation offers a significant tool for understanding the history of philosophy, and, in tracing Socrates’s response to Protagoras’ teachings, he also builds toward a richer understanding of both ancient sophistry and what Socrates meant by “political philosophy.” He discusses his book with Nina Bogdanovsky of BC Libraries.

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