How To Be An Anti Sophist

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Current sociopolitical discourse has become a battleground for sophistry.

The problem with sophism-embedded intellectual frameworks is that it is all around us — It is woven into the debate and rhetorical patterns of interlocuters across the country. We see a dazzling spectacle of sophistry in the media, online, and now — in the educational space, where sophists have anointed themselves as the authority in reason and cognition. Simply, we are born into an information ecosystem that promotes and rewards sophistry.

One might say, the American intelligentsia is steeped in sophist supremacy.

Based on my scholarship rooted in google searches and sanctimony, the only way to undo sophism is to “consistently identify it, describe it, and then dismantle it.” It is not enough to say that you are against sophism. One must be an anti sophist to create a free and objective world.

Being an anti sophist is not a new concept. Socrates and Plato openly criticized sophists for appealing to listeners through rhetoric and colorful language that elicit emotion rather than logic.

However, the anti racist movement has lodged sophism into the unconscious bias of the masses and has subsequently amplified the importance of anti-sophism. The past year has inculcated in me that anti racism is the irrefutable framework through which to analyze social justice. My skepticism of seemingly wise but specious reasoning was upended when I realized that anti racism also provides a particularly useful analytical scaffold to combat sophism.

Channeling the anti racist spirit, anti-sophism is rooted in active argumentation. It is about taking steps to eliminate sophism at the individual, institutional, and structural levels. There is no neutral position on sophistry. One must work towards collapsing the individual experience by being an anti sophist, or one will be partaking in the demolition of objective reality.

Before going onwards, let’s root this self serving analysis on definitions:

A layman’s definition

Sophist — One who supports arguments through the use of clever but specious and crafty reasoning.

Anti Sophist — One who supports arguments through rational and evidence based persuasion.

A sophist’s definition:

Sophist — One who supports a sophist argument through their actions or inaction or expressing sophist reasoning.

Anti Sophist — One who supports an anti sophist argument through their actions or expressing an anti sophist reasoning.

The sophists were professional teachers and intellectuals who visited Athens and other Greek cities in the fifth century. They often took fees from young wealthy Greek men in return for instructing them in oratory and rhetorical skills, and for providing them an education in virtue or excellence.

Similarly, self appointed experts and charismatic orators are charging high costs for their coveted knowledge. Disciples across the country are, in turn, spreading their letters of virtue that seek to shape unmolded young minds to think, act, and babble in sophistry — in the name of preach and just us.

The goal of anti-sophism is to actively challenge sophism by identifying and changing behaviors and beliefs that perpetuate seemingly plausible arguments that are cloaked in spurious reasoning. Fortunately, the anti racist play book provides a very simple and targeted solution to eradicate sophism once and for all.

Just follow these simple and obvious steps to enlightenment (and win some social cachet in the process):

  1. Stop saying “I’m not a sophist.”

Saying “but I’m not a sophist” allows people to avoid participating in anti-sophism. People who believe that they are not sophists are often much more entrenched in sophism than they think they are. One study found that people who described themselves as being inclusive and critical thinkers tended to have implicit sophism embedded in their reasoning powers. These studies need not be cited because these conclusions should be self evident.

2. Identify reasoning disparities

Sophism yields disparities in understanding every sector of private and public life. That includes understanding politics, education, income, or any area showing racial inequality. Being an anti sophist means learning about and identifying reasoning disparities that give rise to simple solutions to complex issues.

3. Confront the sophist reasoning you’ve used and continue to wield

Once you begin to identify reasoning disparities in other sophists, examine whether your own views, beliefs, or patterns of mind have perpetuated sophism. One can simply start with one’s social media posts to determine if sophism has been perpetuated. Also consider interrogating your bookshelves and purging them of books that embody faulty reasoning and sophistry.

Actively creating intellectual uniformity across a diverse population based on anti sophism is the only pathway towards achieving reasoning parity.

4. Champion anti sophism reasoning and assertions

One cannot strive to be an anti sophist without action. Anti racists advocate for using one’s power or getting into a position of power to change policies formulated through sophist rhetoric in any setting where they exist — school, work, government, and so on. Similarly, anti sophists should commit to taking action that has the potential to change sophist thinking.

Since sophism is deeply rooted into our habits of mind that may result in misleading solutions that ultimately harm all Americans, anti sophists should work towards establishing a Department of Anti Sophists (DOA) to root out those who do not reason correctly.

Taking tips from the anti racist framework, the DOA will be comprised of formally trained experts on identifying and monitoring the use of sophism in policy making discourse. Most importantly, there will be no political appointees to adjudicate on whether one has violated anti sophism principles — The DOA will be empowered with that responsibility.

By wielding its disciplinary tools against public officials who do not voluntarily purge sophistry from their rhetoric and argumentation, the DOA will ensure that anti sophism will be the sole intellectual framework of this land.

As I put these steps into action, I take pride in participating in this American project of toppling the sovereignty of independent thought and reasoning. Like a caterpillar who wove my own cocoon, I emerge from my safe space as a newly minted anti sophist. Adorned with implanted charm and beauty, I start the hard work of eliminating sophistry from the hearts and minds of those not yet cogent in anti sophist argumentation.

As the next generation prepares to spin silky anti sophist logic to build their cocoons, I await to listen to the magnificent tune of intellectual transformation, whirring in eerie uniformity.

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