Why Sophism?

If you ask anyone who pays attention to such things, what a sophist is,  they’ll tell you that a sophist is someone who uses misleading and fallacious arguments to persuade and deceive people. But that’s not always what sophism meant.

According to the ancients, sophism, or rather sophists, were men who were trained in the art of philosophy and rhetoric who were paid to teach young men the art of arguing sophistically.

It seems that the practice of taking money to teach people to be better thinkers upset philosophers like Plato and Xenophon.

Because they gave their knowledge away for free.

In Plato’s Republic, the sophist Thrasymachus is the bad guy.

The philosopher, who is the lover of wisdom, is the good guy.

and he always gets the girl in the end.

Nowadays, there aren’t very many folks out there standing in the public square sharing free philosopher lessons for anyone who is interested. At least not where I live, anyway. If you want to learn to think philosophically these days, you have to get yourself enrolled at a university.

Where they make you pay to learn to think philosophically.

So, if I had to pay someone to learn to think philosophically, does that mean that I am a sophist?

…. Or at least my professors were, right?

Oh well. while I figure out my new philosophical dilemma, enjoy this. it’s Monty Python.


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