What Protagoras meant by "man is the measure of all things"?

According to wikipedia the ancient Greek philosopher Protagoras said "Man is the measure of all things: of things which are, that they are, and of things which are not, that they are not" (παν μέτρον άνθρωπος), and "what is or appears for a single individual is true or real for that individual". In other words, he was a proponent of some kind of idealistic relativitism.

I would like to ask him: "Do you think that all ideas, notions and opinions are of equal value?"

For instance, some (in fact, few...) people think that states can find welfare better with a communist system, others believe that a capitalist ("free market") system is better. But historical experience showed that the latter opinion is better.

Did Protagoras mean that if I think that commumism is better, then this is true for me, if I think that capitalism is better then that is also true for me?

This is folly!


I am not a student doing homework. I just like to read philosophy and I had this inquiry long time ago.

4 Answers

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I don't think that's what Protagoras meant. He was removing God/Providence/objective meaning and making it human-centered, but I'd put him in secular humanism rather than postmodernism.

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  • Paul
    Lv 6
    9 years ago

    Our perception and belief is our reality.

    Every false scientific belief IS truth, until proven otherwise.

    It is similar to Quantum?? psychology. Nothing exists until the human mind can concieve it, store it in episodic and semantic memory and share the perseption.

    Things that we now believe are truth, may one day prove to be false, but the truth is not altered until the human perception has been altered. You may argue that it has always been true but our perception was wrong, and you would be correct, but you would be unable dispute that truth until its falsehood could be concieved. Someone's beliefs may not be truth, but it is THEIR truth.

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  • 9 years ago

    You build your life and your entire pattern of though around what you believe. So it's real for you and logical. But someone who has had a totally different experience of life, will believe something else is real and logical. Neither is really wrong.



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  • 9 years ago

    If a tree falls, and no one is around to hear it... You know the rest. Without man, consciousness, nothing really happens and nothing really means anything.

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