An Enquiry on Physis-Nomos Debate: Sophists

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Gulenc N. P.

SYNTHESIS PHILOSOPHICA, vol.31, pp.39-53, 2016 (Journal Indexed in AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 31
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.21464/sp31103
  • Page Numbers: pp.39-53


One of the main discussions related to the topic of the "human-made world" is the physis-nomos debate. The historical roots of this debate can be traced back to the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. Many philosophers, historians, and authors revealed different ideas about this subject. Some of them considered physis to be superior to nomos, while others considered nomos to be superior to physis. The main problem that arises in this discussion is the inclination to stabilize the tension between these two concepts by drawing thick boundaries between them. In this respect, we need to ask two significant philosophical questions. Firstly, is it possible to say that physis and nomos have definite conceptual schemes? The second question is connected to the first one and it deals with whether the tension between physis and nomos can be handled in a fixed manner or not. This paper discusses these questions from the perspectives of the Sophists and contemporary thinkers involved in the physis-nomos debate. It will be based on the idea of how human beings think while constituting the world, and it will evaluate how physis and nomos ought to be related.