Community with Nothing in Common? Plato’s Subtler Response to Protagoras

Mark Sentesy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The Protagoras examines how community can occur between people who have nothing in common. Community, Protagoras holds, has no natural basis. The good is therefore not a theoretical object, but a matter of agreement. This position follows from his claim that “man is the measure of all things.” For Socrates community is based on a natural good, which is sought through theoretical inquiry. They disagree about what community is, and what its bases and goals are. But Plato illustrates the seriousness of Protagoras’s position through the repeated breakdown of their conversation. The dialogue leads us to question both speakers’ assumptions about community. Socrates must face the problem that not everything can be brought to language. Protagoras must recognize that there is a basis of community even in what cannot be shared. Community is generated through dialogue in an event that is both natural and not up to individual speakers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-183
Number of pages29
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


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