SophistsSocrates(F20) (1).docx - 1 The Sophists Sophist: 1....

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1The SophistsSophist:1. A person who reasons with clever but fallaciousarguments.2. A paid teacher of philosophy and rhetoric in ancientGreece associated in popular thought with moralskepticism and specious reasoning.The Sophists were a group of individuals that came toAthens from different cultures and countries and emergedas a movement sometime during the 5thcentury BCE.Not only had the Sophists lived in different countries withdifferent customs, but they had also amassed muchinformation based upon observation of different countriesand cultures.1
2This knowledge made them skeptical about the possibilityof attaining any absolute truth by which a culture orsociety might order its life.The Sophists can be described as practical individuals,and along these lines their interests are representative of ashift away from metaphysical questions to more practicalconcerns of individuals and their culture.Instead of contemplating metaphysical questions aboutthe nature or make-up of reality the Sophists turned to thepractical profession of teaching, they were teachers.Specifically, they taught for a fee the art of rhetoric, theart of persuasive speech, or how to win a debate.Initially, the Sophists had a favourable reputation inAthens, as they taught individuals how to present theirideas in a clear and forceful manner.Yet, the art of rhetoric that the Sophists taught also led totheir downfall.2
3They advocated for relativism, what we today would callcultural or social relativism – the idea that all truth isrelative to a culture or society.Since they looked upon truth as a relative matter, theytaught how to make a bad case look like a good case or anunjust cause appear to be just.Because the Sophists believe that there is no objectiveright or wrong, it does not matter which side of the caseor cause one argues for.And instead of asking if an action is right, the Sophistsasked: Will performing this action be to my advantage?Will it make me successful?3
4It is important to note that the Sophists make a distinctionbetweenphysisandnomos.Physisis commonly translated as nature and refers to thefeatures of the world that are independent of humantraditions and decisions.4
5Nomos, on the other hand, refers to that which is based onhuman customs or conventions.

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Socrates philosophical thought

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