Philosophy, Not Sophistry

Philosophy is good. Sophistry is bad. At what point does philosophy degenerate into sophistry? This is an important question. The answer defends philosophy from erroneous or malicious misclassification, i.e strawman attacks. Philosophy and sophistry do not mark opposing ends of a spectrum, so you must dispense with that supposition upfront.

Introduction to Indian Philosophy: A Free Online Course | Open Culture

Philosophy is not evasive. Philosophy is methodical, and transparent. The more rational the philosophy, the more methodical and transparent its processes, and the more it relies on objective, impartial evidence to support its conclusions. Less rational philosophies are more subjective, favour intuitive or traditional patterns, and present assumptions as premises.

Sophistry however is non-philosophy. It is evasive, attempts to distort or obfuscate, employs rhetoric in place of reason, and commits the many sins of poor philosophers (confirmation bias, ad hominem attacks, circular/faux reasoning, etc.). The sophist practices these methods purposefully, in order to avoid loss of face, deflect criticism, conceal error, or escape embarrassment. The sophist refuses to answer directly and refuses to provide explicit terms and comply with the standards of genuine debate. The sophist knows he can never win in the arena of philosophy so spoils the protocols and fouls the game.

Now consider your beliefs: are they philosophically supportable? Would you need sophistry to defend them?

0