Whilst Claude is correct that there are many streams feeding into the
liberal arts education, I would posit that Sophists are indeed very much
alive and active in modern universities. We can find them coved in the
hutches, Colleges, Institutes and Schools of Education, from whence they
gaily sally forth, armoured in the gaudy greaves of B.Ed., M.Ed. and even
D.Ed (suitable!) to infest the opulent offices of Red Tape Worm
Administrators and such not.
They have the curious, and seemingly semi-theological belief, that
multiple-choice questions measure knowledge, that statistics do much the
same, and that it is the feed-back which counts beans. They have many
tedious theories, many slick schemes, many woolly-headed wiles, but
little, or naught, of the necessary noos.
Department of Classics and Humanities
Montclair State University
Montclair, NJ 07043
Post by Claude Pavur
"Sophist" is a very elastic term. Didn't Isocrates and Plato call each
other sophists? At the least they may have associated each other with
Laszlo Versényi suggests that Socrates "developed, perfected, and, at the
Yale UP, 1963], p. 75). And many certainly put Socrates at the source of
the Western educational tradition.
What is the implicit rationale of non-professionalized (i.e., liberal arts)
college curricula today? If it is focused on helping people to become
successful, well-spoken, versatile, informed leaders who know how to make
their way in the conventions of society, then there is probably be good
reason for Kerferd's understanding. But the college / university teaching
profession is heir to so many ancestors that the sophists seem a distant if
recognizable ancestor. They are certainly in the gene-pool. But they may
be more like a homo habilis to our homo sapiens Neanderthalensis.
The Institute of Jesuit Sources
Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
Post by John Lenz
Yes, the sophists have been called the first liberal arts professors.
They studied history etc. (look at Socrates in Clouds). Of course
they did more than language; don't let Plato define the sophists!
I was told today that Kerferd in his The Sophist Movement, claims that
the modern teaching profession is modeled on the Sophists. Thinking about
it, I can see how that may hold in the sense of appreciating the critical
use of language and using argument to back up a case, and the way some
claimed to be able to teach virtue. How have his arguments stood?