They were gifted with speech. They were skilled in what is known as Rhetoric. They were respected, feared and hated at the same time. They had a gift and used it in a manner that aroused the ire of many. They challenged, questioned and did not care to arrive at the very best answers. They cared about winning public speaking contests, debates, and lawsuits and in charging fees to teach others how to do as they did. To be able to speak well meant a great deal at that time.
As there was no real paper available, (there was nothing written which could be used as evidence back then) they would need to settle any arguments through a contest of words: one person’s words against another’s. Whoever presented the best oral case would often win. To speak well was very important. The Sophists were very good speakers. Indeed, they had reputations for being able to convince a crowd that up was down, that day was night, that the wrong answer could be the right answer, that good was ad and bad is good, even that injustice is justice and justice would be made to appear as injustice!
The Sophists taught others how to; win no matter how bad your case is/win friends and influence people/succeed in business without really trying/succeed in life/play to win . The Sophists held no values other than winning and succeeding. They were not true believers. They were atheists, relativists and cynical about religious beliefs and all traditions. They believed and taught that “might makes right”. They put their trust in whatever works to bring about the desired end at whatever the cost. They dad a business of education and profited from it.
Their concerns were not with truth but with practical knowledge. They practiced rhetoric in order to persuade and not to discover truth. Their art was to persuade the crowd and not to convince people of the truth. Their focus was human civilization and human customs. They put the individual human being at the center of all thought and value. They did not hold for any universals; not universal truths nor universal values. On the other hand Socrates foundation was the knowledge of universal definitions claiming that ; ‘The only life worth living is good life. He was the most interesting and influential thinker in the fifth century, whose dedication to careful reasoning transformed the entire enterprise. Since he sought genuine knowledge rather than mere victory over an opponent, Socrates employed the same logical tricks developed by the Sophists to a new purpose, the pursuit of truth. Thus, his willingness to call everything into question and his determination to accept nothing less than an adequate account of the nature of things make him the first clear exponent Of critical philosophy.
Although he was well known during his own time for his conversational skills and public teaching, Socrates wrote nothing, so we are dependent upon his students (especially Xenophobe and Plato) for any detailed knowledge of his methods and results. He had a practical aim in his life, as well as a moral mission. He wanted to make people think and become more aware of the particular ideas which their life was shaped around. Leanest of lecturing he asked questions and questioned answers (dialect)Socrates did not believe we were born with blank minds.
He held that oils have the hidden knowledge of objective truth, beauty and goodness yet when we get caught up in worldly affairs and pursue passions, this wisdom is forgotten ; hence Socrates asked questions to help individuals. With this procedure ,Socrates invented the method of dialect for discovering truth through conversation. Socrates used the method of dialect also known as the “Socratic Method”. Socrates starts by asking a general question such as ‘What is beauty? ‘ / “what is justice? ‘ / “what is wisdom? ” ; every Socratic dialogue deals with different questions.
Socrates responds ironically and affirms that e does not know the answer to the question and asks the interlocutor to help him out. Socrates said that our most important goal in life “is to make the soul as good as possible. ” Only knowledge of the soul will lead us to living the good life. Socrates linked knowing and doing, such that knowing the good implies doing good. ‘moral optimism’ or ‘ethical intellectualism’ ; he was convinced that if someone possessed true knowledge of what constitutes good moral conduct, then one wouldn’t behave badly. He defines virtue in terms of good and evil in terms of ignorance.