Sophistry arose from the opposition between physis and nomos, between nature and law. John Burnet traced the origin of this opposition to the scientific progress of the previous centuries which suggested that Being was radically different from what was experienced by the senses and, if comprehensible at all, was not comprehensible in terms of order; the world in which men lived, on the other hand, was one of law and order, albeit of humankind's own making. At the same time, nature stayed the same, while what was by law could be changed and differed from one place to another.
The first man to call himself a sophist, according to Plato, was Protagoras, whom he presents as teaching that all virtue is conventional. It was Protagoras who claimed that "man is the measure of all things, of the things that are, that they are, and of the things that are not, that they are not," which Plato takes to indicate a radical perspectivalism, where some things seem to be one way for one person (and so actually are that way) and to be another way to another person (and so actually are that way); consequently, one cannot in any way look to nature for guidance regarding how to live one's life.
Subsequent sophists tended to offer to teach rhetoric as their primary vocation, as did Protagoras. Prodicus, Gorgias, Hippias, and Thrasymachus all appear in various Platonic dialogues, sometimes explicitly teaching that, while nature provides no ethical guidance, the guidance that the laws provide is worthless, or that nature favors those who act against the laws.
Other articles related to "sophistry":
... The sophist may argue that no distinctions can be made, as honey is sweet, but "bitter to those abounding in bile" or that bread is both pleasant "to the hungry and unpleasant to the surfeited." Yet the wise say, 'Even this statement of you sophists, about the jaundiced nature of everything, is alike jaundiced, and there is no truth in it.". ...
... taking and exchanging goods, to which sophistry belongs ... comparison, and after having been aware of the different kinds and sub-kinds, he can classify sophistry also among the other branches of the ‘tree’ of division of expertise as ... money-making expertise in debating." After having failed to define sophistry, the Stranger attempts a final deduction through the collection of the five ...
... of which Stanley Fish is a typical representative sophistry renders truth itself equivocal and deprives scholarly learning of its reason for being ... disdain of principle and his embrace of sophistry reveal the hollowness hidden at the heart of the current academic enterprise ... and are therefore irrelevant." In her essay "Sophistry about Conventions," philosopher Martha Nussbaum argues that Stanley Fish's theoretical views are based on "extreme relativism and even ...
Famous quotes containing the word sophistry:
“A land of meanness, sophistry and mist.
Each breeze from foggy mount and marshy plain
Dilutes with drivel every drizzly brain.”
—George Gordon Noel Byron (17881824)