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Biography of Protagoras

Feelosofi – Protagoras, a prominent figure in the history of ancient Greek philosophy, was born around 490 BC in Abdera. He is known as a sophist, a group of thinkers famous in the 5th century BC who focused on practical wisdom and rhetoric. Protagoras gained fame as a teacher skilled in the art of speaking and teaching rhetorical skills to the youth of Athens.

Protagoras’ biography was marked by the development of the theory of relativism, which he expressed with the controversial statement, “Man is the measure of all things; that which exists, that it exists, and that which does not exist, that it does not exist.” This statement reflects his view that truth and values are relative, depending on individual perception and experience. Although nothing survives of his work, Protagoras’ influence in the history of philosophy continues to be felt through debates about relativism and the role of rhetoric in intellectual life. Although Protagoras’ life was cut short during the war involving Athens and Abdera, his legacy continues to be cherished and gives rise to deep discussions about the nature of knowledge and truth.

Protagoras Thoughts

Man is the measure of all things

In the context of Protagoras’ philosophy, this expression describes his view of relativism, where everything, including truth and moral values, is relative and depends on individual perception. Protagoras believed that each individual has his own reality and truth, which are determined by his own experiences and views.

Thus, there is no objective truth or universal standard that can be held by everyone. This statement creates a basis for understanding the complexity of subjectivity and the diversity of views in understanding the world. Although controversial, this concept made a significant contribution to philosophical thought, stimulating deep debate about the nature of truth and the relativity of values in society.


In Protagoras’ perspective, education is an important foundation for shaping humans’ views of the world. As a sophist who emphasized rhetoric and practical wisdom, Protagoras emphasized the meaning of education in forming character and skills that are essential for everyday life. For Protagoras, education is not just the receipt of information but also the formation of moral character and speaking skills necessary for active participation in society.

He believed that education should create individuals who are able to adapt to various situations and have the ability to defend their views effectively. In Protagoras’ view, education aims to empower individuals to be able to face life’s challenges wisely and respond appropriately to social dynamics. This approach reflects Protagoras’ commitment to the development of practical skills that can be applied in everyday life, proving that education is not only about the accumulation of knowledge but also about the development of character and effective skills.


Protagoras emphasized the importance of rhetoric as a key skill for participating in public life. For Protagoras, rhetoric was not just an entertaining speaking skill but a powerful tool for influencing public opinion and shaping society’s views. He taught that skill in rhetoric can give individuals the power to convey arguments persuasively and effectively.

Protagoras also viewed rhetoric as a way to shape perceptions and interpretations of reality, allowing individuals to understand and convey their views clearly. In this context, rhetoric is not just a means of speaking but also a means of understanding relative truth and participating in public dialogue. Protagoras’ approach to rhetoric reflects its central role in shaping practical wisdom, making significant contributions to philosophical thought and the art of speaking that are still relevant today.

Works of Protagoras

No work by Protagoras remains intact or can be accurately ascertained. We get information about Protagoras’ works through quotations and references from other writers in the history of philosophy. Therefore, it is impossible to provide a complete list of Protagoras’ works with their dates in the original title. Protagoras is known primarily through quotes and testimonies from ancient philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle.


Overall, Protagoras’ contribution to philosophy can be concluded as opening the way to a deeper understanding of the relativity of knowledge and moral values. The core concepts he promoted, such as “Man is the measure of all things,” created the foundation for relativism thinking that challenged the idea of objective truth.

With a focus on rhetoric and practical wisdom, Protagoras brought philosophy towards a more practical understanding related to everyday life. Although Protagoras’ own works have not survived, his legacy lives on through his influence on later philosophers. This conclusion shows that Protagoras’ thought has made a valuable contribution to intellectual debate, establishing the foundation for further consideration of the relative and subjective nature of human knowledge.


What was Protagoras’ main contribution to the history of philosophy?

Protagoras is known for his contribution to philosophy by introducing the concepts of moral relativism and knowledge. His statement, “Man is the measure of all things,” emphasizes that truth is relative and depends on individual perception, creating the foundation for an understanding of subjectivity in judgment and values.

What was the main focus of Protagoras’ teachings?

The main focus of Protagoras’ teachings was on rhetoric and practical wisdom. He emphasized the importance of speaking skills and persuasive argumentation as a tool to influence public opinion and participate actively in community life.

Do Protagoras’ works still exist today?

Unfortunately, none of Protagoras’ works remain intact. We get information about his teachings and thoughts through quotes and testimonials from other philosophers in the history of philosophy, such as Plato and Aristotle.


  • Protagoras: Filsuf Orang Kristen Abad Kedua – Aloys Grillmeier (1956)
  • Protagoras: The Man, His Measure – Francis MacDonald Cornford (1935)
  • Protagoras dan Sophistik – J.B. Schneewind (1972)

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Raymond Kelvin Nando
Writer, Researcher, & Philosophy Enthusiast