So sophistry flourishes always in opposition, but never in the primary place. They need to "frame" themselves as outsiders.
My sophist friend Wrangler quotes John Locke then writes of his own blog's position:
"Be sure not to let your son be bred up in the art and formality of disputing, either practicing it himself, or admiring it in others; unless, instead of an able man, you desire to have him an insignificant wrangler, opiniator in discourse, and priding himself in contradicting others; or which is worse, questioning everything, and thinking there is no such thing as truth to be sought, but only victory in disputing."
In an effort to distance myself from Locke's notion of enlightenment, I celebrate mere wrangling, and relish my insignificance. Play the world away.
And my new-blogging friend, Pure Sophist Monster, writes of his:
The historian of rhetoric Susan Jarrett says that the sophists have historically been seen as "arch-deceptors, enemies of Truth, manipulators of language" (xi Rereading the Sophists). Viewed less pejoratively (and more productively), however, we can say that the sophists were committed to an understanding of truth and values as (culturally and situationally) contingent, and that they were invested in language as means of navigating these contingencies.
So the sophists oppose a notion of truth that is transcendent and uncontingent with one that is culturally and situationally contingent. But regardless of what Plato said, I don't think that the sophists are opposing the important point.
Truth is like this: either the planet is warming because of CO2 emissions, or it's not. No amount of "framing" can undo that point. Now, we may not have perfect knowledge of the causes, and we may even disagree about whether the supposed warming is a problem (certainly Russia would be less averse to the ridiculous specter of rising sea levels than New Orleans would be). But there is a Truth here, uncontingent, un-cultural, un-situational.
So leaving Plato aside, my renewed critique of sophistry is that it proposes to speak on all issues with authority, without bothering about gaining expertise in any particular issue.