What is Sophism

Sophism or sophistry (this second form is found in dictionaries, including dictionaries of philosophy) is a word of Greek origin — sophisma — whose meaning is “to make deceitful reasonings”.

Sophism is a devious, tricky reasoning, argument or union of arguments that is intended to lead to unpleasant or paradoxical conclusions; sophism is rhetoric or bad-faith thinking that seeks to mislead ; it is a fallacious argument created with the intention of deceiving ; it is reasoning that has apparent sense and/or logic ; just real appearance.

A parallel definition of sophism is the idea of ​​joining together true premises to reach an illogical or unrealistic conclusion through the art of rhetoric.

According to the dictionary of philosophy, the use of the word sophism is quite vast, ranging from double arguments to paradoxes.

In popular parlance, the meaning of sophism is:




fallacy and sophism

The fallacy is defined by Pedro Hispano as “the suitability making us believe that we are what we are not, through some fantastic vision” and “appearance without existence”. Fallacy and sophism are words that can be used synonymously. Within the history of philosophy, however, both concepts have different paths.

Paralogism and sophism

Paralogism also designates false reasoning, however, with the difference that it is done in good faith.

Sophism and syllogism

Syllogism, in its origin, had the meaning of calculation. For Plato, syllogism was reasoning in general; for Aristotle, the syllogism referred to perfect deductive reasoning. In this sense, syllogism and sophism have opposite meanings.

sophism and sophistry

According to Aristotle, sophistry is wisdom that is only apparent but not real; it is the ability to create deceptive, specious arguments. According to Bréhier, sophistry is a way of teaching and has no pejorative meaning.

Sophism and Sophist

The word sophist also comes from the Greek, but in its origin is the meaning of “wisdom” or “wise”, without the pejorative sense.

The history of the Sophists is little known, as only accounts written by their enemies are known. According to philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, the sophist is an imposter, a demagogue. However, since the end of the 19th century, historians have considered that the Sophists were, in fact, the founders of pedagogy, the masters of the art of education. The sophists differed from the philosophers because they were responsible for the transmission of knowledge.

Therefore, the Sophists were the first paid teachers in the history of education; they created enmities with the aristocrats, who accused them of selling their sophia (knowledge) to anyone who could pay. The knowledge “sold” by the Sophists was mainly that of rhetoric; in ancient Greece, there were no lawyers; both the defense and the prosecution were made by the citizens involved; when the art of speech is taught to anyone who can pay, the aristocracy (which used to monopolize the knowledge of rhetoric) sees in the figure of the sophist an enemy of its interests (it is worth remembering that philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, did part of the Athenian aristocracy).

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