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Calling Philosophers NamesOn the Origin of a Discipline$
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Christopher Moore

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691195056

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691195056.001.0001

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Fifth-Century Philosophoi

Fifth-Century Philosophoi

Diffusion and Dynamism after Pythagoras and Heraclitus

(p.127) 5 Fifth-Century Philosophoi
Calling Philosophers Names

Christopher Moore

Princeton University Press

This chapter draws on the fifth-century BCE uses of philosophos and cognates for two purposes: as corroboration for the coinage meaning set out in Chapter 3 and the connection to Pythagoreans set out in Chapter 4, and as description of the drift in meaning the term underwent across several generations of use. It focuses on six authors, each of whom use the term once: Herodotus, Thucydides, the Hippocratic author of On Ancient Medicine, Gorgias, Aristophanes, and Lysias. Burkert already referred to these authors in his observation that philosophos did not first mean “lacking wisdom” or “spectating the universe.” Treated, however, in their respective literary and rhetorical contexts, they provide significant information about the fifth-century BCE career of the idea of being philosophos. It appears that at the end of that century, the term sometimes loses its wry implication and names a quite specific mode of dialectic exchange about matters of abstract or broad significance.

Keywords:   philosophos, Herodotus, Thucydides, On Ancient Medicine, Gorgias, Aristophanes, Lysias, dialectic exchange, literary context, rhetorical context

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