The Sophistical Attitude and the Invention of Rhetoric Academic Article uri icon


  • Traditionally, the Older Sophists were conceived as philosophical skeptics who rejected speculative inquiry to focus on rhetorical methods of being successful in practical life. More recently, this view has been complicated by studies revealing the Sophists to be a diverse group of intellectuals who practiced their art prior to the categorization of "rhtorik," thereby rendering the very meaning of the general term "Sophist" far more problematic. Both perspectives conceal the common attitude that unites the Sophists as a group and is central to understanding their democratic ethos rooted in an experimental attitude that draws on the resources of speculative reason to serve the purpose of radical invention necessary for a democratization of the productive arts. Recovering the professionalism and experimentalism of the Sophists contributes to the democratic project of promoting the productive and collaborative arts-including rhetoric-that employ the resources of theoretical knowledge to inform collective practice and thereby assist in controlling the fortunes of humankind in a changing world. 2010 National Communication Association.

published proceedings

  • Quarterly Journal of Speech

author list (cited authors)

  • Crick, N.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Crick, Nathan

publication date

  • February 2010