"Sophist" is a dialogue written by Plato in the 4th century BC. It is part of his tetralogy of works on the nature of reality, which also includes the "Republic," the "Timaeus," and the "Critias."
The dialogue centers around the nature of the sophist, a type of professional educator who was skilled in the art of rhetoric and persuasion. Socrates engages in a discussion with several other interlocutors, including a visitor from Elea named Theaetetus and a group of sophists, who claim to be experts in the art of argumentation.
Through a series of dialectical exchanges, the dialogue explores the question of what a sophist actually is and how they differ from philosophers. Socrates argues that sophists are not true philosophers, but rather mere imitators who use rhetorical tricks and deceptions to persuade others. He suggests that true knowledge and wisdom can only be attained through a rigorous process of questioning and examination.
The dialogue also raises important questions about the nature of reality, the problem of being and non-being, and the relationship between language and truth. Plato ultimately presents a complex theory of forms, arguing that abstract concepts such as truth, beauty, and justice have a real existence in a realm beyond the physical world.
"Sophist" has had a lasting impact on Western philosophy and has been interpreted in a variety of ways, including as a critique of the sophistry and relativism of contemporary culture and as a defense of the power of reason and truth.