“Sophist” (σοφιστής), “wise man” (σοφός) and “philosopher” (φιλοσοφός): the Origin of a Nomenclature, from Classical Greece to Imperial Rome and Ancient Armenia

01 October 2019 → 30 September 2022
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Philosophy not elsewhere classified
Philosophy Philosopher Sophistry Sophist Wisdom Rhetoric
Project description

In IV century BC, many important terms that had to do with wisdom
(sophia), such as “philosophy” (philosophia), “philosopher”
(philosophos), “sophistry” (sophistikê) and “sophist” (sophistês), had
not yet received the definition they have today. For instance, Plato
defined philosophy by opposing it to sophistry. Isocrates assimilated
“true sophists” with “true wise men” whereas Xenophon gave the
word “philosophy” a meaning that resembled that of “sophistry”.
Today, Plato’s definition has been generally accepted. However, in
Imperial Rome, during the Second Sophistic, many philosophers
continued to reject it, for instance Philostratus and Aelius Aristides.
The objective of the research project is to analyse the use of such
words as “philosophy”, “philosopher”, “sophistry” and “sophist” in
Greek Antiquity, more precisely in authors of the V century BC like
Gorgias, Hippias and Protagoras, and in IV century BC’s authors like
Plato, Isocrates, Xenophon and Aristotle. Such an analysis aims at
understanding how authors of V and IV century BC used and
comprehended these words as well as how they influenced their
meanings. The research project also aims at building an
understanding of how these ancient words developed in Imperial
Rome and Ancient Armenia until their current meanings were