Sophism is right. “Truths” are relative, in that they are both true and false. One is everything, all at once. I take Parmenides and Gorgies and yolk them together like the Yin/Yang that they are.
Everything is also nothing, and nothing is everything.
Philosophical “Truth” is “True” at the right moment in time, but even that is an illusion because we are always living in “Now”.
Now is all there is.
It’s true that everything and nothing is true.
Like a quantum particle, it is both yes, and no at the same time.
Or as Tolkien put it “Ask not the elves for advice, because they will tell you both ‘yes’ and ‘no’.”
The Elves represent the pneumatics in his mythology, and the pneumatics are people that “know” that they know nothing… they know that the divine is inseparable in all that exists, and that we exist in an illusion of concepts/divisions (papañca – conceptual proliferation; the world of 10,000 “things”.)
The Greek Mysteries were meant to show people that.
The Platonists seek knowledge and truth, and see Sophists as looking for power instead.
However for Sophists, knowledge is power. And for most humans that have axiomatic “truths”, it is not “truth” that matters, but what is true to them, in a given time and place.
The Sophists are not saying this is a “good” or “bad” thing. Only that this is the reality we live in…. Plato was right, but so was Gorgias.
Socrates, I would say, was the last true Sophist however. Because he valued “Truth”, which was optimal in the “Now”.
There is a line from George Orwell’s 1984 that speaks to this nicely:
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
This is about persuasion, or as the ancient Greeks saw it “Μῆτις” (or Metis) which means more or less “skillful means”. It combines wisdom and cunning into one concept.
Some notable quotes:
“But the art of sophistry, which the Greeks cultivated, is a fantastic power, which makes false opinions like true by means of words. For it produces rhetoric in order to persuasion, and disputation for wrangling. These arts, therefore, if not conjoined with philosophy, will be injurious to every one.” ―
“The most striking difference between the ancient and modern sophists is that the ancients were satisfied with a passing victory of the argument at the expense of truth, whereas the moderns want a more lasting victory at the expense of reality. In other words, one destroyed the dignity of human thought whereas the others destroy the dignity of human action. The old manipulators of logic were the concern of the philosopher, whereas the modern manipulators of facts stand in the way of the historian. For history itself is destroyed, and its comprehensibility—based upon the fact that it is enacted by men and therefore can be understood by men—is in danger, whenever facts are no longer held to be part and parcel of the past and present world, and are misused to prove this or that opinion.”