Man is the measure of all things

Man is the measure of all things…Whatever in any city is regarded as just and admirable is just and admirable in that city for as long as it is .

PROTAGORAS, 480-411 BC
Attributed in Plato’s Theatetus, 196C or 160D

1. ‘thought to be so’ by whom? The majority?

2. Slavery in the British Empire was ‘regarded as just’ by most for a time. It took a Wilberforce to say, ‘It is not just, just because most say so.’

3. Man is the measure…Which man and which men? Were Lenin and Stalin the measure for the Soviets? Tough luck for the Ukrainian kulaks then.


Fire burns both in Hellas and in Persia; but men’s ideas of right and wrong vary from place to place.

Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, V, (vi) 2


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