What are the main arguments advanced by the Unjust Logos in Aristophanes' Clouds?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Unjust Logos represents the new learning sweeping through Athens at the time. In the play, it is represented by the character Socrates, who is actually a composite of the real Socrates and other prominent teachers of the period.

The Unjust Logos or logic challenges the traditional ways of Athenian life and questions the existence of the gods. It is satirized in the play as turning traditional morality upside down. The Unjust Logos praises sloth, deception, disrespect of elders, unkemptness, and sexual immorality. Moreover, the Unjust Logos is obsessed with rhetoric, concerned not with the truth of a situation, but with winning an argument at all costs by twisting words. In fact, the deeply debt-ridden Strepsiades sends his son and himself to the Thinkery in order to learn the kind of slick rhetoric that he thinks will help him in his upcoming court case against his creditors. What he gets as an "education" is much more than he bargained for.

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The argument between the two logoi, or arguments, in Aristophanes' Clouds is an exercise in personification, in which the older, traditional form of education appears on stage as the Better logos and the newer, sophistic education appears as the worse logos.

The main arguments of the better Logos are from the standpoint of ethics, desire for honour in the community, and antiquity. The Worse Logos argues mainly from expediency:

{Worse:} I'll yield the first turn to him,

And I'll take his own words and turn them around

Inventing proverbs and new catch phrases,

Using his own arrows to shoot him down

Like Protagoras, the Worse Logos claims to make the worse case appear the better, and to be able to win any argument. The ends -- personal pleasure and material success -- always are more important than the means.

Read the study guide:
The Clouds

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