War, Society and Human Nature in Thucydides’ Thought and the Sophists

Keywords: civil war, human nature, society, sophists, stásis, Thucydides

Abstract

The aim in this paper is to compare the concepts of society and human nature in Thucydides’ work, with the anthropological doctrine from the group of sophists that were their contemporaries in the 5th century BC, such as Protagoras, Thrasymachus, Prodicus, Critias and, specially, Antiphon, the Greek historian’s teacher. However, the ideas attributed to the representatives of this intellectual movement will be brought up regarding the details that Thucydides extracted from his own description of stásis or civil war in the city of Corcyra to give an account of the regularity of human behavior in a position of extreme necessity. In his account of events Thucydides himself set the stásis up not only as a model of the Peloponnesian War, he also raises it to the level of a universal paradigm of any military confrontation for war. In the final analysis, and according to the way in which the case is dealt with by the author in Book III, 81-83 of his History, we will see these passages can also be interpreted in the light of sophistic theories about the beginnings of civilization, and at the same time they systematize underlying ideas on violence and the constitution of the polis, ideas argued at that time. The subject of the relations among the use of force, the possibility of social ties and human nature is still the matter of debate in the academic world in the face of the new present conflicts in the international political atmosphere.

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Author Biography

Helver Martín Alvarado, Escuela Militar “General José María Córdova”
Magíster en Filosofía, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá.

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Published
2017-07-30
How to Cite
Martín Alvarado, H. (2017, July 30). War, Society and Human Nature in Thucydides’ Thought and the Sophists. Revista Científica General José María Córdova, 15(20), 247-265. https://doi.org/10.21830/19006586.183
Section
History