Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch
cbertsch

Sophistry

From Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History--
The sophist in the precise sense is a teacher of sham wisdom. Sham wisdom is not identical with untrue doctrine. Otherwise Plato would have been a sophist in the eyes of Aristotle, and vice versa. An erring philosopher is something entirely different from a sophist. Nothing prevents a sophist from occasionally and perhaps habitually teaching the truth. What is characteristic of the sophist is unconcern with the truth, i.e. with the truth about the whole. The sophist, in contradistinction to the philosopher, is not set in motion and kept in motion by the sting of the awareness of the fundamental difference between conviction or belief and genuine insight. But this is clearly too general, for unconcern with the truth about the whole is not a preserve of the sophist. The sophist is a man who is unconcerned with the truth, or does not not love wisdom, although he knows better than most other men that wisdom or science is the highest excellence of man. Being aware of the unique character of wisdom, he knows that the honor deriving from wisdom is the highest honor. He is concerned with wisdom, not for its own sake, not because he hates the lie in the soul more than anything else, but for the sake of the honor or the prestige that attends wisdom. He lives or acts on the principle that prestige or superiority to others or having more than others is the highest good (117).
Tags: commonplace book, theory
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