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Ancient Philosophy

The Sophists

What did Hippias contribute to learning?

The Sophist Hippias of Ellis (c. 460 B.C.E.) made a lot of money in his travels. He was polymathic (widely knowledgeable), and wrote poems, plays, histories, and speeches, as well as discussions of literature, astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, the arts, ethics, and mnemonics. He made an important mathematical discovery of the curve used to trisect an angle, the quadratrix. He argued against Pre-Socratic posits of hidden reality and advocated self-sufficiency as a virtue. In conflicts between nature and convention, he is said to have advocated following nature. This meant that if he felt like doing something, and there was a rule against it, he was in favor of doing that thing and breaking the rule.



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