“Confound Laughter with Seriousness”: The <i>Protagoras</i> as Monological Dialogue

in Socrates & the Fat Rabbis

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226069166
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226069180 | DOI:
“Confound Laughter with Seriousness”: The Protagoras as Monological Dialogue

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One of the most startling moves in Plato is his constant insistence that dialogue is incompatible with, is the exact opposite of, rhetoric and debate. In order to understand Plato, then, some distinctions have to be drawn between “dialogue,” “dialectic,” and “rhetoric/debate.” As shown recently by Edward Schiappa and David Timmerman, the verb dialegesthai and its related forms seem only to have meant to have a conversation until some time late in the fifth century BC. Marking their suggestion as “speculative,” Schiappa and Timmerman propose that at about that time or slightly later, the term began to take on a more specialized meaning as a term of art among the group of intellectuals who were only later dubbed Sophists, including Protagoras, Hippias, and Socrates. Plato is one of their major sources. Plato's dialogues are—at least on first reading—what Mikhail Bakhtin has called “monological dialogue.” but not only that. The very relationship between speakers in the dialogue is precisely that of an un/official monologism.

Keywords: Plato; dialogue; Protagoras; dialectic; debate; rhetoric; Hippias; monological dialogue; monologism; Sophists

Chapter.  19567 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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