What is Philosophistry

by phil on Monday Mar 10, 2003 5:28 PM
philosophist goals, sophistry

Welcome to Philosophistry! What the heck is this site? Well, hopefully the answer to that question will emerge as time goes on. But, enough! On to the guts. Philosophy--see the difference--is Greek for "love of wisdom." Philos = love. Sophos = wisdom. Now, the Greek "philosophers," primarily Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, distinguished themselves from contemporary thinkers by the fact that they didn't charge money for their musings. Rival philosophers who did charge included Pythagoras, most famous for his namesake theorem. The Great Three philosophers condemned Pythagoras for being a mere rhetorician, spewing off sophisms, reducing his work to simple sophistry. They picked and gnawed at his arguments, but mainly were just pissed off that he charged money, citing an arbitrary notion that a "true" philosopher wouldn't charge money.

I feel that there is no difference between Socrates and Pythagoras. To me, all philosophical musings are just sophistry in the end. What makes one thing a work of "philosophy" and another just "sophistry" is simply the level of detail with which the author argues his points. Many would point to Nietzsche as a sophist. I mean, if you read the Gay Science, it becomes obvious. With just a simple passing over his first verse, a careful reader can tear it apart at so many places and render his argument as baseless. But you can do that with EVERYTHING. It's just that the established "philosophers" such as Sartre, Kierkegaard, and Kant are so ultra specific and thick, that it's difficult to write them off unless you yourself are a so-called philosopher. In which case, the effort you'd craft in your response to them would only further perpetuate a popular intellectual's notion of philosophy.

If "philosophy" were to stay true to its linguistic origins, it would be an archive of collected wisdom from respected people over time. Philosophy has evolved now to where modern philosophy is only considered truly philosophy if its the study of Truth. All Truth is founded on arguments that are logically sound, or consistent. So essentially, modern philosophy is the study of consistent systems related to living. However, the only thing that comes close to consistent systems are found in Math. And since I don't see many mathematical formulas in philosophy books, there isn't much difference to me between a philosopher and an editorialist.

Anyway, why I'm going at great lengths to explain this is to make a point about the title of this blog. I make no claims that what I'm doing is truly philosophy. I recognize that what I will say and what others say is just humanistic fun arguments with varying degrees of advanced style. I'm allowing everything here to be labelled as a rant, as most everything really is. Everybody has an opinion, and every opinion is motivated by human biases. There is content and worth in every point of view, from Bush to the pundit.

I love sophistry because sophistry IS philosophy.

Update 1 year later: I need fact-checking on the Pythagoras debate. I still think many of us would be in self-delusion by calling ourselves philosophers. This has got to be one of the most pompous, elitist professions, i.e. how many papers are by philosophers espousing that states should be run by them?

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