Defending the Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & the American Constitution
Sunday December 21st 2014

Ancient Philosophers: The Sophists: General Notions


Classic Philosophers: The Great Thinkers of Western Philosophy  


Ancient Philosophers: The Philosophy of the Early Greek Naturalists, by Jonathan Dolhenty


V. The Philosophy of the Sophists: General Notions


Those who impersonated this new state of mind were the Sophists, philosophers from all parts of the Grecian world in search of fortune. They were said to possess and encyclopedic knowledge, and they offered, at a price (for the first time requested for teaching the liberal arts), to instruct youth in the art of governing.

The means was oratory, in which some (such as Protagoras, and above all Gorgias) became most highly admired. In fine, it was the aim of the Sophists to create in youth the ability to argue over the proper use of words (Eristic Method), or their misuse (Sophistic Method). Plato, implacable enemy of these philosophers, was the first to call them by the name of Sophists, which has remained their title in history.

In the picture of history, Sophistic thought can be considered as a transition from the old cosmological concepts to the new ideas about man. Its importance is slight in so far as, both in the problem of knowledge and in that of morals and justice, it logically resulted in Skepticism, as we shall soon see. However, one cannot deny the Sophists the merit of having recalled philosophy to an analysis of the subject; and though Sophism remained incipient, it would in the immediate process of time culminate in the high speculations of Plato and Aristotle.


The late Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty was the Founder and President of The Center for Applied Philosophy and the Radical Academy, and is Honorary Philosophy Editor at The Moral Liberal. The Moral Liberal has adopted these projects beginning with a republishing and preserving of all of Dr. Dolhenty’s work. “Classic Philosophers: The Great Thinkers of the Western World” was designed and organized by Jonathan Dolhenty, Ph.D. Copyright ©1992 -2011 The Radical Academy. Copyright renewed in © 2011 -2013 The Radical Academy (a project of The Moral Liberal).


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