The pre-Socratics may be classed as naïve materialists in this sense; though, as at that early period the contrast between matter and spirit had not been' fully realized and matter was credited with properties that belong to life, it is usual to apply the term hylozoism to the earliest stage of Greek metaphysical theory.
In the second and greater work he goes back to the theories and methods of the Ionians and the pre-Socratics generally.
Plato extended the Socratic discovery to the whole of reality and while seeking to see the pre-Socratics with the eyes of Socrates sought " to see Socrates with the.
Further, since Socrates and the Socratics were educators, they too might be, and in general were, regarded as sophists; but, as they conceived truth - so far as it was attainable - rather than success in life, in the law court, in the assembly, or in debate, to be the right end of intellectual effort, they were at variance with their rivals, and are commonly ranked by historians, not with the sophists, who confessedly despaired of knowledge, but with the philosophers, who, however unavailingly, continued to seek it.
For, though that celebrated personage would have liked to be called, not " sophist " but " political philosopher," and tried to fasten the name of " sophist " upon his opponents the Socratics, it is clear from his own statement that he was commonly ranked with the sophists, and that he had no claim, except on the score of superior popularity and success, to be dissociated from the other teachers of political rhetoric. It is true that he was not a political sophist of the vulgar type, that as a theorist he was honest and patriotic, and that, in addition to his fame as a teacher, he had a distinct reputation as a man of letters; but he was a professor of political rhetoric, and, as such, in the phraseology of the day, a sophist.
With these resemblances to the contemporary professors of education, and with these differences, were Socrates and the Socratics sophists or not?
Again, as the Socratics - Plato himself, when he established himself at the Academy, being no exception - were, like their master, educators rather than philosophers, and in their teaching laid especial stress upon discussion, they, too, were doubtless regarded as sophists, not by Isocrates only, but by their contemporaries in general; and it may be conjectured that the disputatious tendencies of the Megarian school made it all the more difficult for Plato and others to secure a proper appreciation of the difference between dialectic, or discussion with a view to the discovery of truth, and eristic, or discussion with a view to victory.
Whereas, so long as philosophy was in abeyance Socrates and the Socratics were regarded as sophists of an abnormal sort, as soon as philosophy revived it was dimly perceived that, in so far as Socrates and the Socratics dissented from sophistry, they preserved the philosophical tradition.
The Socratics) dialectic; (3) that the differences between the different groups of sophists were not inconsiderable, and that in particular the teaching of the rhetoricians was distinct in origin, and, in so far as its aim was success in a special walk of life, distinct in character, from the more general teaching of the sophists of culture, the eristics, and the dialecticians, while the teaching of the dialecticians was discriminated from that of the rest, in so far as the aim of the dialecticians was truth, or at least the bettering of opinion; and, consequently, (4) that, in awarding praise and blame to sophistry and its representatives, the distinctive characteristics of the groups above enumerated must be studiously kept in view.