The Sophistic epoch of Greek philosophy was, in great part, such a negative reaction against the self-confident assertion of the nature-philosophies of the preceding age.
Though scepticism as a definite school may be said to date only from the time of Pyrrho (q.v.) of Elis, the main currents of Sophistic thought were sceptical in the wider sense of that term.
ZocearLKoL g XEyXoL: Sophistici Elenchi: On sophistic (roccaTLKOS) or eristic syllogism (EpLaTLKOS avXAoytapos), so called from the fallacies used by sophists in refutation (€AEy X os) of their opponents.
2, 1356 a 33); and, since rhetorical arguments are examples and enthymemes analysed in the Analytics, rhetoric is finally regarded as a compound of analytic science and of morals, while it is like dialectical and sophistic arguments (i.
Pointing out that the sophists of that dialogue " profess Eis ap€riffs E7rt,u XELav 7rporpNiaL by means of dialogue," that ' they challenge the interlocutor inr w Xoyov," that " their examples are drawn from common objects and vulgar trades," that " they maintain positions that we know to have been held by Megarians and Cynics," he infers that " what we have here presented to us as ' sophistic ' is neither more nor less than a caricature of the Megarian logic "; and further, on the ground that " the whole conception of Socrates and his effect on his contemporaries, as all authorities combine to represent it, requires us to assume that his manner of discourse was quite novel, that no one before had systematically attempted to show men their ignorance of what they believed themselves to know," he is " disposed to think that the art of disputation which is ascribed to sophists in the Euthydemus and the Sophistes (and exhaustively analysed by Aristotle in the HEpi originated entirely with Socrates, and that he is altogether responsible for the form at least of this second species of sophistic."
And there follows the sophistic movement.
The sophists have other claims to consideration than their service to the development of logic. In the history of the origins of logic the sophistic age is simply the age of the free play of thought in which men were aware that in a sense anything can be debated and not yet aware of the sense in which all things cannot be so.
Among the pioneers of the sophistic age Socrates stands apart.