In the previous post I mentioned the ‘travelling sophists’. I feel I should justify this, that I would cast certain career philosophers as sophists.
Always keep in mind that the route is that of an actor. We are not extending some subjective honesty, some ‘actual belief’, some direct object-experience toward argument and proof. This gets nowhere. Yet the actor speaks the truth always; rather, the good actor contains within her performance the truth of the whole audience. Drawing from the truths of her experience, she keeps her experience out of the verbatim dialogue until the end, until all the scripts have been read and all the plays played. Then perhaps we get to know whatever the ‘real’ actor may have been, even if this is possible.
But the sophist are actors of another sort. They indeed see themselves dealing in direct truth, and their route thus can be seen as a deception. Everyone knows that when they are going to see a play that they are involved in a kind of deception, of deceiving themselves; this type of deception gets at a truth that can be more profound than a breakthrough in a therapy session. The issue of the sophist revolves around the acting as if the therapy proposed of their philosophical discourse is of a direct truth, but not only this, more that the sophist will not admit, if they are capable of admitting, that they indeed are not dealing in truth. The twisting of this truth by the sophists into an all encompassing omnipotent and omnipresent reality of relative and negotiated value, where truth is in relativity, in negotiated discourse, is the inevitable result of agency, the ability to make choices, the final reduction of a being of free will, of existential primacy.
When we look at what this term means, sophism, through the lens of what has been granted us by the records of history, particularly from the early Greek thinkers, we may come to view an essential issue. This issue is a marker, a guide for thinking, if you will, about history, about what it is. In one sense, history is a causal negotiation of present terms, a situation of clausal reference that allows for identity, as the arena in which such identity allows for things, what we can call True Objects. The taking of these things as the fundamental basis of all that is true is what allows for, in relief, the functional ideal as well as affect of free will, and by loose extension, freedom itself as an ideological qualifier, a mythological justification. Of our time. This needs be unpacked, but for another essay. We are now speaking of the significant issue that defines our moment.
The issue has been noted concerning whether Socrates was a sophist, and how can we or do we distinguish between what Socrates does or did, and what ‘those who charged a fee’ for wisdom or the learning of wisdom. This has been a question that has ridden through the philosophical times.
The question that is never satisfactorily answered is: What distinguishes Socrates as a sophist but not a sophist?
What opening is Latour attempting to create? What is it that Latour attempts to define by situating ‘modern’
What is the significance of speculative realism and what are they attempting to account for and or cover up?
What do I mean by calling certain philosophers ‘travelling sophists’?
On a more speculative note: How far does modern extend?