First a bit of history... The sophists, from the same Greek root for sophisticated, in general originally had a meaning akin to "wise man." Though, as other ancient Greek writers reference these sophists the meaning changes to something like today's vernacular would say: "know-it-all." There isn't really much directly written about these people but suffice it to say they were lecture-teachers-for-hire. They travelled around Greece hiring themselves out to teach people how to win arguments. They were so skilled at argumentation that they prided themselves on being able to take either side of an argument and make it the stronger (basically they could convince an eskimo to buy snow). They were skilled unscrupulous orators that sold their skill to anyone that could pay. Interestingly enough Socrates was sometimes lumped in with the sophists though he didn't take payment for his teachings, and in some texts is shown seriously disagreeing with other sophists.
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