) The death of Socrates, to a large extent, occurred because the citizens of ancient Athens’ were unable to distinguish clearly between Socrates and any old sophist; accordingly, a comparison of Socrates to the sophists will help one to avoid making the same mistake as that committed by those early members of the Western world. Why, then, is Socrates often mistaken as a sophist? In what ways is he different from them? In crafting one’s response, one would do well to consider to what respective ends rhetoric is employed and why; nomadism versus fidelity to Athens; Aristophanes’ portrayal of Socrates in The Clouds; Socrates’ description of himself as a “gadfly”; Socrates’ description of himself as a “midwife”; Socrates’ reason for confessing that he cannot teach knowledge and, accordingly, why he cannot accept payment; the sophists’ reason for charging their students; and relativism and skepticism/cynicism versus absolute knowledge, or Truth.
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