The word sophist comes from the Greek word Sophos which means wise, but at the same time it has a different meaning, it means manipulator, because the sophist is a person who uses different sophisms or false arguments that seem to be true. For this reason, the word has today become a word of contradiction and a derogatory term. Actually, when we refer to the Sophists we are talking about purely intellectual thinkers who had an important role in Greece, mainly during the 5th century BC and who lived mainly in the city of Athens.. Among the most prominent figures of sophism that we can mention are the following characters: Protagoras, Gorgias and Critias. Most of them came directly from Greek settlers, but they lived in Athens. In this city the philosophical and cultural environment was perfect for the creation of new ideas. His proposals clashed at all times with the ideas of the polis and Socrates and Plato .


Why are they famous


For giving a new direction and meaning to philosophy thanks to the study of the cosmos


Who were the Sophists?

The word sophist comes from the Greek sophía (σοφία), ” wisdom ” and s ophós (σοφός), ” wise .” This name was given in classical Greece to people who taught wisdom. They were people who had practical intelligence and generic sense. They were wise men and intellectual thinkers who played a very important role in Greece and who were in charge of educating thousands of young people.

  • History of the Sophists
  • Characteristics of the sophists
  • Representatives
  • Works of the sophists

History of the Sophists

The sophists were great thinkers who developed all their activity in the city of Athens in the 5th century. The philosophers who were dedicated to sophist thought developed different theories to explain the cosmos. They were in charge of giving a new direction and meaning to philosophy . For them the theme for them was based on man and society . They spent a lot of time traveling and got to know many different cultures. A number of problems related to customs and laws were raised. They gave rise to the idea of relativism. They went from place to place teaching their theories about how to be good citizens and what steps to take to succeed in the field of politics. His teachings had a practical purpose and this was to manage adequately in politics. They were the first thinkers who charged money to impart their teachings.

Characteristics of the sophists

  • They were masters in the teaching of virtue .
  • They were the first professionals when it came to teaching and charged large sums of money to provide some of their teachings.
  • They were teachers with always well-defined projects in terms of educating people. They always answered the questions they were asked and held discussions and courses.
  • They provided young people with discussion techniques, techniques of mastery of the word and the power of the word.
  • They were interested in man and society, always reflecting on civilization and culture .
  • They showed great interest in rhetoric and eristics within a democratic society in which mastery of word and speech meant total success.


  • Protagoras :  Great traveling thinker, much celebrated and needy. He lived for a long time in Athens, where he had a relationship with Socrates and was a friend of Pericles who entrusted him with the work of making the constitution for the Turios colony in which public education was founded and on a compulsory basis. He traveled through different cities in which he received huge sums of money.
  • Gorgias :  His art was classified as oratorio and he boasted of having answered questions made by verifying what was argued . He held a very weak and easily rebuttable thesis that led him to suffer from attacks by Socrates.
  • Prodic : He was a famous Greek philosopher who was part of the first generation of sophists in the world.
  • Hippias : Greek sophist who was born in approximately the 15th century. He was a contemporary of Protagoras and Socrates . Your biggest and best source of knowledge coming from Paton.
  • Socrates:  Greek philosopher considered one of the greatest philosophers in the world, both in Western and universal philosophy . He was Plato’s teacher who in turn had Aristotle as a faithful disciple and the three united are considered as fundamental representatives of Greek philosophy .

Works of the sophists

The Sophists were teachers who went from one place to another and worked as professional teachers providing their services to the youth of Greece , mainly in Athens. Some of his works were the following:

  • The Treatise on Not Being (Author: Gorgias)
  • Double Arguments (by unknown author)
  • Sophistic Refutations (written by Aristotle)
  • Dialogues, Protagoras and Gorgias (author: Plato)

These authors of the sophist works had studied mainly nature, they investigated about reality and this was their arche. They shifted their focus of interest to the study of man and society.

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