How Was Socrates Different From the Sophists?

Socrates differed from the Sophists because he believed in looking for the absolute truth in an objective fashion, while the Sophists believed that people should make decisions based on what they felt was “true” inside of themselves. Socrates felt that society needed wisdom, and that wisdom was more than the subjective “truth” that the sophists praised.

Despite Socrates’ difference in opinion with the Sophists, Socrates did share some of their beliefs, and died in part because of the Sophists. Socrates associated with the Sophists, and most of the Sophists were considered political enemies.

Socrates himself did not keep any records of his thoughts, beliefs or work. All of the details and records that exist today come from Socrates’ contemporaries. Unfortunately, these contemporaries were biased, and the accounts cannot be considered truly accurate. What is known is that Socrates became the “foundation of Western philosophy.”

Socrates lived a simple life, and did not believe in gathering obscene amounts of wealth. He also was an excellent debater, and often debated with the Sophists. The Sophists helped Socrates to develop his reasoning, which Plato would learn from and use in his own philosophy. The way that the Sophists reasoned was also one of Socrates’ main criticisms of Sophism, since the sophists would teach people to memorize passages instead of relying on their own reasoning abilities.