Dictionary Source

These definitions come from the Funk & Wagnal Dictionary 1895 Edition.


  1. Gr. Philos. & Hist.
    1. A member of the earliest branch of the anthropological school of Greek philosophy, originating in the 5th century B.C., which turned the attention mainly to the thinking and willing subject (though only in his individual character), and thus effecting the transition from philosophy as a cosmology to the phase more fully developed by the Socratic school, SEE Greek Philosophy.
    2. A professed teacher of wisdom;
      one of the great greek teachers of philosophy and rhetoric that resulted from the perversion of the principle (of individual subjectivism) of the early sophists, and in the end devoted themselves to mere frivolities.
      In the earlier period they claimed to give their pupils a liberal education, and especially to prepare them for civic life, regarding success in life rather than truth as the end of intellectual effort.
      The acquired great pernicious skill in disputation under logical forms, especially in the use of specious and fallacious modes of thought designed to "make the worse appear the better cause," and in all kinds of quibbling and casuistry, and so brought themselves and their methods into contempt.
      This school was revived in the 2nd Century A.D. in the form of professorial orators and disclaimers, and later still as defenders of paganism and Philosophic culture.
      Lucian and Julian the emperors belonged to the latter schools.
  2. Hence one who reasons or disputes cleverly but fallaciously;
    a specious dialectician;