Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Lectures on the History of Moral and Political Philosophy$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Jonathan Wolff and G. A. Cohen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691149004

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691149004.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

Plato and His Predecessors

Plato and His Predecessors

(p.3) Chapter 1 Plato and His Predecessors
Lectures on the History of Moral and Political Philosophy

G. A. Cohen

, Jonathan Wolff
Princeton University Press

This chapter explores how the nature/convention distinction is taken up by Plato and many of his Sophistic predecessors. It argues that the philosophically most fundamental motivation of Plato's Republic is to reply to a staple proposition of fifth-century Greek thought, a proposition propounded by many of Plato's Sophistic predecessors: that there is a distinction between nature and convention, phusis and nomos, and that nomos, convention, human law, cannot be derived from nature and even contradicts nature. The chapter first considers the historical importance of Sophism as well as Sophistic universalism before discussing Socrates' response to the Sophists, particularly Glaucon, and Plato's arguments against a contractarian account of justice. It also examines the concepts of authoritarianism, totalitarianism, and the lower class, along with Aristotle's rejection of the Sophist opposition between nature and convention.

Keywords:   nature, convention, Plato, Republic, Sophism, Socrates, justice, authoritarianism, totalitarianism, Aristotle

Princeton Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.