Protagoras: Shame and law are the basic and catalytic conditions of democracy and society.

The great representative of the Greek Enlightenment, the theoretician and father of democracy Protagoras briefly described on one page the two basic and catalytic conditions of democracy and society, “shame and trial” (shame and law).

According to the myth of Protagoras, Prometheus stole from the gods Athena and Hephaestus and gave people the “artful wisdom plus fire”. Wisdom and art allowed man to survive the wild beasts of his primitive environment but at the same time to differentiate himself from animals in order to be able to create human civilization.

Zeus punished Prometheus for his disrespect and bravery, to free people from their shackles, not to reconcile with the misery of their situation that all the established tells them, but to struggle with their ingenuity and hard work to improve their living conditions.

Wisdom and art alone, however, were not enough to save people. Despite all this, Zeus, out of grief for the people he saw them lost and eaten among themselves, sent Mercury to give people extra “shame and judgment” to be saved and to live in an organized, just and civilized society. their.

“Artistic wisdom” is knowledge and “fire” is the means to achieve its goals and man can survive in his hostile primitive environment. “Artistic wisdom” and “fire” distinguished humans from horses and animals.

Shame is man’s feeling for his usually immoral actions, which are not accepted according to the unwritten rules of society.

The law is the respect of the written laws, the rights of other people and the acceptance by man to give to his fellow human beings what belongs to them.

Shame and law contribute to the harmonization of human relations and consolidate social cohesion, although they are not identified with politics, but they are necessary preconditions for its conquest and practice.

Hermes asked Zeus how to distribute “shame and judgment” among people. To give them like the arts to some specialists, like the doctor or the shipbuilder, that few specialists are enough to do the work for their fellow human beings or he has to give them to all people.

Zeus answered clearly and sharply. “To all and to all have a share in them. If few had a share in them, as in the other arts, then there would be no cities “or societies of people …

But Protagoras’ masterpiece and the greatness of democracy are below. Protagoras did not stop introducing shame and law as catalytic preconditions of democracy and society, he went too far, so as not to leave any doubt about anything, he said it all.

Let us pay attention to what our respected professor Kyriakos S. Katsimanis, Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy of the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Athens, tells us below about Protagoras and democracy, which in two pages briefly describes the quintessence of democracy

When there was a discussion in the Church of the Municipality about technical issues “about construction or shipbuilding” only the experts, ie builders and shipbuilders, are called as consultants. “If an irrelevant citizen tried to express his opinion on them, he would meet with the disapproval of those present with eunuchs, and if he persisted, he would be forcibly removed by order of the rectors.”

But when the discussion was about the governance of the city, “for shame and justice”, then all the ordinary citizens spoke and the others listened to them with great attention.

 All ordinary citizens, dots and dashes, spoke about shame and justice. This was democracy for Protagoras.

The right and the duty of all citizens to freely express their views (asceticism & parsimony) on issues concerning the city was a necessary and necessary condition for the smooth and proper functioning of democracy.

The views of our respected professor K. Katsimani on citizenship, “statehood” and democracy are also very relevant and relevant to the above.

That “citizenship”, is not in line with apathy and joining silent majorities, but requires the exercise of parsimony, active participation in collective processes and the practical expression of interest for the public.

The messages of Greek antiquity are also important, according to which the politically indifferent was characterized as “ugly”, that is, useless 27, while the politically “neutral” due to cowardice or opportunism was stigmatized as as “dishonorable”, ie he lost his political rights 28.

And finally, young people must realize that patriotism can neither be a profession nor be used as an alibi for its own benefit, but each time it must, depending on the facts and circumstances, be concretized as a substantial contribution to society, the people and the nation. “

27. The characterization comes from the Epitaph of Pericles (Thuc. II, .40, 2, 3-5).

28 .According to a law introduced by Solon, as mentioned in the Athenian State of Aristotle, 8,5,1-6.

Today society has lost its shame and justice, shame and justice. But there are other worse ones. We read and listen in the public debate and the press every day to the “experts” who made science and change the meaning of words and facts, as it suits them best, because in essence they talk about their tomar, their descendants and their own chairs.

Our respected professor Kyriakos S. Katsimanis emphasizes us.

“In general, the semantic distortion is promoted by the introduction of words that are used in full, but without having precisely defined their semantic content, which is, of course, not at all accidental28.

Thucydides outlines the distorting effects of the moral and political crisis on the use of language: “and the arbitrary claim of names in works was exchanged for justification” changed the established meaning of words, depending on how it suited them. “

But Protagoras and Zeus continue in the deep waters of democracy. We recall that we said above that Zeus told Mercury about the way of distribution to the people of hell and trial.

 “To all and to all have a share in them. If they had a small share in them, as in the other arts, then there would be no cities. “

And so that there is no doubt, Zeus came to an end.

“And to impose the following law on my behalf: the one who cannot have a share in the shame and the trial to be killed, because it is a disease for the cities.”

The father of the Protagoras democracy deliberately exaggerates the death penalty, to show blatantly the seriousness of the lack of shame and law in our societies and the bad consequences they have in general.

If we want to survive as a society and as a nation we must soon find again the feeling of shame and the trial of Protagoras… ..

The limited term for all public functions has its roots in Protagoras’ positions on democracy, because in Protagoras there are no “experts”, professional politicians, to speak exclusively and as it suits them for shame and justice.

The people, in order to survive, applied, among other things, contempt, the “bitten black” and our own Loufolias correctly and succinctly said “comply to have a good time”.


Ανθρωπισμός, δημοκρατία και παιδεία στον πλατωνικό Πρωταγόρα

Συζητώντας τις έννοιες τις πολιτειότητας, της δημοκρατίας και του πατριωτισμού

Related bibliography: Plato and Aristotle, Philosophical Interpretation of Selected Texts K. Katsimanis Gutenberg Athens 2003

The great representative of the Greek Enlightenment, the theoretician and father of the Democracy Protagoras.

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