Meaning of Sophism

What is Sophism?

It is known as sophistry false argument or reasoning, formulated with the purpose of misleading the adversary.

As for its etymology, sophism comes from the word sophist, of Greek origin sophia What does “wisdom” mean? sophos which expresses “wise men”.

Sophism can designate all erroneous reasoning but in logic, a sophism refers specifically to reasoning that appears to be correct but is not. A fairly common example of sophistry is the argument: “All women drive badly.”

The sophism can be seen as a flawed syllogism, that is, an exposition of false or true premises whose conclusion is not adequate, which has the purpose of defending something and confusing the interlocutor. For example: All men are mortal / the cat is mortal / men are cats.

See also Syllogism.

The synonyms of sophism are: trickery, deception, appearance, fallacy, falsehood, among others.

In English, the term sophistry is sophism.

types of sophistry

The sophistries appear to be correct but are logically wrong. Sophisms are in the realm of rhetoric and we can commonly find them in everyday examples as described below.

See also Rhetoric.

accident sophistry: seeks to confuse the accidental with the essential. Example: Yesterday I studied a lot so I will get a good grade.

Sophistry ignorance of the cause: the real cause is not defined as the cause and another is used as the cause. Example: That accident was God’s punishment.

Sophistry ignorance of the matter: a proposition is ignored by emphasizing something unrelated to the topic. Example: You don’t care about me / But I always bring you gifts.

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Sophism petition of principle: an argument is taken as a principle and without proving it conclusions are deduced. Example: I am a hard worker and therefore I have no money problems.

vicious circle sophistry: one proposition is proven with another, the second being proven with the initial one. Example: If you don’t have money, sell our products that are on sale for 100 pesos.

Sophism of induction or false generalization: a group is attributed what is typical of some individuals. Example: All Americans are ignorant.

sophism of analogy: Some similarities between several are concluded for convenience. Example: All men are macho.

fallacy and sophistry

Sophism is an intentional fallacy in which the individual makes an erroneous or invalid inference to mislead the other.

In the field of logic, a fallacy consists of the act of reaching a certain wrong conclusion from false propositions. By virtue of the above, Aristotle’s philosophy addresses the fallacy as a sophism, a wrong reasoning to deceive others.

See also Fallacy.


Sophist is the person who argues with sophisms. The name of sophists was given to a group of Greek masters of rhetoric and the art of arguing.

The sophists appear as a consequence of the cultural and social conditions of Greece at the beginning of the 5th century BC

In principle, the sophists were well seen, responsible for educating the inhabitants, and advising the leaders. However, at the time of Plato and Aristotle, they were pointed out as cheats and liars, since they deceived individuals through their speeches.

Based on the above, the sophists were not supported by the philosophers Plato and Aristotle, the sophistic arguments being repudiated.

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