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THE SCANDAL OF SOPHISM: On the Epistemological Seriousness of Relativism

THE SCANDAL OF SOPHISM: On the Epistemological Seriousness of Relativism Symposium: A “Dictatorship of Relativism”? THE SCANDAL OF SOPHISM On the Epistemological Seriousness of Relativism Daniel Boyarin As its subtitle indicates, my essay concerns the epistemological seriousness of relativism, a mode of thought whose seriousness is often — much too often — in question. To begin, I would like to quote a statement of received opinion about Plato’s dialogue Gorgias. In an essay purporting to advise students on how to get the most out of college, the conservative pundit David Brooks wrote recently: Read Plato’s “Gorgias.” As Robert George of Princeton observes, “The explicit point of the dialogue is to demonstrate the superiority of philosophy (the quest for wisdom and truth) to rhetoric (the art of persuasion in the cause of victory). At a deeper level, it teaches that the worldly honors that one may win by being a good speaker . . . can all too easily erode one’s devotion to truth — a devotion that is critical to our integrity as persons. So rhetorical skills are dangerous, potentially soul-imperiling gifts.” Explains everything you need to know about politics and punditry.1 Despite a century of research findings and explication to the contrary (since Nietzsche!), this way of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Common Knowledge Duke University Press

THE SCANDAL OF SOPHISM: On the Epistemological Seriousness of Relativism

Common Knowledge , Volume 13 (2-3) – Apr 1, 2007

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
© 2007 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0961-754X
eISSN
0961-754X
DOI
10.1215/0961754X-2007-009
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Symposium: A “Dictatorship of Relativism”? THE SCANDAL OF SOPHISM On the Epistemological Seriousness of Relativism Daniel Boyarin As its subtitle indicates, my essay concerns the epistemological seriousness of relativism, a mode of thought whose seriousness is often — much too often — in question. To begin, I would like to quote a statement of received opinion about Plato’s dialogue Gorgias. In an essay purporting to advise students on how to get the most out of college, the conservative pundit David Brooks wrote recently: Read Plato’s “Gorgias.” As Robert George of Princeton observes, “The explicit point of the dialogue is to demonstrate the superiority of philosophy (the quest for wisdom and truth) to rhetoric (the art of persuasion in the cause of victory). At a deeper level, it teaches that the worldly honors that one may win by being a good speaker . . . can all too easily erode one’s devotion to truth — a devotion that is critical to our integrity as persons. So rhetorical skills are dangerous, potentially soul-imperiling gifts.” Explains everything you need to know about politics and punditry.1 Despite a century of research findings and explication to the contrary (since Nietzsche!), this way of

Journal

Common KnowledgeDuke University Press

Published: Apr 1, 2007

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