Find the word definition

Crossword clues for sophism

The Collaborative International Dictionary

Sophism \Soph"ism\, n. [F. sophisme, L. sophisma, fr. Gr. ?, fr. ? to make wise, ? to be become wise, to play the sophist, fr. ? wise.] The doctrine or mode of reasoning practiced by a sophist; hence, any fallacy designed to deceive.

When a false argument puts on the appearance of a true one, then it is properly called a sophism, or ``fallacy''.
--I. Watts.

Let us first rid ourselves of sophisms, those of depraved men, and those of heartless philosophers.
--I. Taylor.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

early 15c., earlier sophime (mid-14c.), "specious but fallacious argument devised for purposes of deceit or to exercise one's ingenuity," from Old French sophime "a fallacy, false argument" (Modern French sophisme), from Latin sophisma, from Greek sophisma "clever device, skillful act, stage-trick," from stem of sophizesthai "become wise" (see sophist).


Etymology 1 n. 1 a method of teaching using the techniques of philosophy and rhetoric 2 (label en slang) A flawed argument superficially correct in its reasoning, usually designed to deceive. 3 (label en slang) An intentional fallacy. Etymology 2

n. (archaic spelling of Sufism English)


n. a deliberately invalid argument displaying ingenuity in reasoning in the hope of deceiving someone [syn: sophistry, sophistication]


Sophism is a method of teaching. In ancient Greece, sophists were a category of teachers who specialized in using the techniques of philosophy and rhetoric for the purpose of teaching arete—"excellence" or "virtue"—predominantly to young statesmen and nobility. The practice of charging money for education and providing wisdom only to those who could pay led to the condemnations made by Socrates, through Plato in his dialogues, as well as Xenophon's Memorabilia. Through works such as these, Sophists were portrayed as "specious" or "deceptive", hence the modern meaning of the term.

The term originated from Greek σόφισμα, sophisma, from σοφίζω, sophizo "I am wise"; confer σοφιστής, sophistēs, meaning "wise-ist, one who does wisdom," and σοφός, sophós means "wise man".

Usage examples of "sophism".

I find a set-off to that privation in my delightful sleep, and in the ease which I experience in writing down my thoughts without having recourse to paradox or sophism, which would be calculated to deceive myself even more than my readers, for I never could make up my mind to palm counterfeit coin upon them if I knew it to be such.

Certainly, however, Casanova did not deceive himself with these sophisms, and Nature, who for many years had unquestionably lavished her gifts on him, had her way.

My good sense shewed me, in spite of all sophisms, that I had been grievously insulted.

Villiers severely chastised the protectionist champion, showing how unscrupulously he played the part of a plagiarist even in the sophisms he employed.

In the hatred of the Barbarians I am born and bred, and I hope to die in it, unbewildered by modern sophisms.

Certainly, however, Casanova did not deceive himself with these sophisms, and Nature, who for many years had unquestionably lavished her gifts on him, had her way.

A man, on the contrary, if he cannot unravel the sophism, takes it in a literal sense, and in that respect the learned woman is exactly the same as man.

And on Sunday, when she rendered her weekly accounts, it was without a blush that she increased by a few centimes the price of each object, rejoicing when she had thus scraped a dozen francs, and finding, to justify herself to her own eyes, those sophisms which passion never lacks.

The French, or imperial system, which excludes the extremes, instead of uniting them, denies all opposites, instead of conciliating them--denies the distinctions in the model, and copies only the unity, which is the supreme sophism called pantheism.

Your passion would invent a thousand sophisms to justify your love, decorated with the fine appellation of friendship, and you would not fail to allege hundreds of similarly disgusting cases in order to excuse your conduct.

That division of the heart and of the mind appears to me a pure sophism, and if it does not strike you as such you must admit that you do not love me wholly, for I cannot exist without mind, and you cannot cherish my heart if it does not agree with my mind.

The sophisms of the brain cannot resist the mutual-aid feeling, because this feeling has been nurtured by thousands of years of human social life and hundreds of thousands of years of pre-human life in societies.

Every such government is founded on the assumption that man is God, which is a great mistake--is, in fact, the fundamental sophism which underlies every error and every sin.

The Alcoran of the Turks (I speak without prejudice,) is an ill composed Piece, containing in it vain and ridiculous Errors in Philosophy, impossibilities, fictions, and vanities beyond laughter, maintained by evident and open Sophisms, the Policy of Ignorance, deposition of Universities, and banishment of Learning, that hath gotten Foot by Arms and violence: this without a blow hath disseminated it self through the whole Earth.

When, therefore, Plato puts into his mouth such paralogisms, such quibbles on words, and sophisms, as a school boy would be ashamed of, we conclude they were the whimsies of Plato's own foggy brain, and acquit Socrates of puerilities so unlike his character.