§31 [215-216]

Sophistry's ideal is the ability to speak and converse reasonably and beautifully about all things, regardless of whether what is said holds good or not. The sophist has made a decision in favor of the form, in favor of this aesthetic ideal of human existence, i.e., actually, in favor of an unconcern with substantive content, whereas the philosopher has a προαίρεσις in favor of the βίος of the pure θεωρεῖν of the ἀληθές, i.e., in favor of uncoveredness in itself. What thus for dialectics lies in the distance, in the direction of which the dialectician is moving, is something with regard to which the philosopher is not merely πειραστικός, but γνωριστικός (b26); the philosopher is already at home in it. The philosopher has the possibility, the δύναμις, of exhibiting the whole in its Being and in the structure of its Being, provided this δύναμις is taken up seriously. Sophistry, on the other hand, is φαινομένη (ibid.), it merely seems like that, but in fact it has basically another ideal, οὖσα δ᾽ οὔ (ibid.), it is not actually philosophy. So you see from this nexus, from the orientation dialectics and sophistry have toward the idea of philosophy, that Aristotle does not simply negate dialectics but instead characterizes it as πειραστική. Thus it has a determinate positive sense: in common with philosophy, the dialectician speaks, as Aristotle says in the Topics, κατὰ τὸ πρᾶγμα,4 "with regard to the matters themselves," whereas the sophists are not concerned with saying anything of substance but are simply concerned with the εὗ, with arguing and discussing beautifully and brilliantly and in seeming to demonstrate things in a genuine way.5

In connection with dialectics we had the opportunity to determine something about sophistry and to characterize it at least formally. This first characterization must now be continued.

§31. First characterization of sophistry.1 Continuation.

a) The idea of παιδεία in sophistry and in Aristotle. Εὗ
λέγειν. Concern with substantive content and unconcern
with substantive content. Predelineation of ἀληθεύειν
as the ground of sophistry.

It must be noted that Plato makes only the single distinction, between dialectics and sophistry, whereas Aristotle, by reason of a more acute grasp of the meaning of the dialectical and of dialectics itself, proposes a threefold articulation: philosophy, dialectics, sophistry.

4. Sophistical Refutations I, 11, 171b6.

5. See the appendix.

1. Title in Heidegger's manuscript.