After reading the Sophists portion of the A Presocratics Reader, one fragment stuck out to me. It described how Protagoras dealt with both sides of the argument rather than just one. This statement challenged one of my beliefs and offered me a chance to possibly change my outlook.
Protagoras thus is claiming that no one argument is ever one-sided. By doing this, he is asserting that every single discussion can be won no matter how lopsided it may appear. The claim is, “Protagoras made the weaker and stronger argument and taught his students to blame and praise the same person” (Stephanus of Byzantium). This challenges what is commonly accepted to pick one side and stick with it. People before him would never have been able to blame and praise the same person as if you agree with someone, why you would blame them. Protagoras’s idea of doing this challenged what people beforehand believed in and as a result would transform the way people thought about issues.
This claim at first seems to be controversial but it would actually prove to be important going further in history. Making people look at both sides of an argument could help them discover something which they would not have previously. Even today people do not follow this kind of thinking as mostly seen with the political parties. People truly believe that there is only one correct answer to a problem without pausing to think that it could be somehow resolved in another way. The interesting aspect of this possible idea is that even after two thousand plus years, it is still not commonly accepted to involve oneself in this practice. I am not sure whether this speaks more about a stubbornness about humans or that we are only seeing one side of this argument. Either way, it is interesting to look at a claim made over two thousand years ago that can still be applied to modern times.