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Cicero de Finibus

M. Tullii Ciceronis

De Finibus Bonorum Et Malorum

Liber Secundus

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I. Hic cum uterque me intueretur seseque ad audiendum significarent paratos, “Primum,” inquam, “deprecor ne me tamquam philosophum putetis scholam vobis aliquam explicaturum, quod ne in ipsis quidem philosophis magno opere umquam probavi. Quando enim Socrates, qui parens philosophiae iure dici potest, quidquam tale fecit? Eorum erat iste mos qui tum sophistae nominabantur; quorum e numero primus est ausus Leontinus Gorgias in conventu ‘poscere quaestionem,’ id est iubere dicere qua de re quis vellet audire. Audax negotium, dicerem impudens, nisi hoc institutum postea translatum 2 ad nostros philosophos esset. Sed et illum quem nominavi et ceteros sophistas, ut e Platone intellegi potest, lusos1 videmus a Socrate. Is enim percontando atque interrogando elicere solebat eorum opiniones quibuscum disserebat, ut ad ea quae ii respondissent si quid videretur diceret. Qui mos cum a posterioribus non esset retentus, Arcesilas eum revocavit instituitque ut ii qui se audire vellent non de se quaererent sed ipsi dicerent quid sentirent; quod cum dixissent, ille contra. Sed eum qui audiebant quoad poterant defendebant sententiam suam; apud ceteros

  • 1elusos Reid.
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Book II.

De Finibus

Book II

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I. Upon this they both looked at me. and signifiedRefutation of Epicurean Ethics. Cicero replying to Torquatus propoes to adopt the Socratic method. their readiness to hear me. So I began: “First of all, I beg of you not to imagine that I am going to deliver you a formal lecture, like a professional philosopher. That is a procedure which even in the case of philosophers I have never very much approved. Socrates, who is entitled to be styled the father of philosophy, never did anything of the sort. It was the method of his contemporaries the Sophists, as they were called. It was one of the Sophists, Gorgias of Leontini, who first ventured in an assembly to ‘invite a question,’ that is, to ask anyone to state what subject he desired to hear discussed. A bold undertaking, indeed, I should call it a piece of effrontery, had not this custom 2 later on passed over into our own school. But we read how Socrates made fun of the aforesaid Gorgias, and the rest of the Sophists also, as we can learn from Plato. His own way was to question his interlocutors and by a process of crossexamination to elicit their opinions, so that he might express his own views by way of rejoinder to their answers. This practice was abandoned by his successors, but was afterwards revived by Arcesilas, who made it a rule that those who wished to hear him should not ask him questions but should state their own opinions; and when they had done so he argued against them. But whereas the pupils of Arcesilas did their best to defend their own position, with the rest of the philosophers the student who has put a question

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_tullius_cicero-de_finibus_bonorum_et_malorum.1914