Part of the series on:
The Dialogues of Plato
Early dialogues:
EuthyphroFirst Alcibiades
Hippias MajorHippias Minor
Transitional & middle dialogues:
Later middle dialogues:
The RepublicPhaedrus
Late dialogues:
The SophistThe Statesman
Of doubtful authenticity:
MinosRival Lovers
Second AlcibiadesTheages

Euthydemus (Euthydemos), written 380 BCE, is dialogue by Plato which satirizes the logical fallacies of the Sophists. The main purpose of Euthydemus is no more than it appears to be: to contrast Socratic argumentation and education with those of a certain type of Sophist, to the detriment of the latter. There is no reason to doubt that the two representatives whom Socrates argues against, Euthydemus and Dionysodorus (brothers), were indeed real people. Euthydemus was somewhat famous during this time. He is mentioned several times by both Plato and Aristotle. Dionysodorus is mentioned only once, by Xenophon. Socrates's demeanor of always being patient and rational is thinned a bit. Euthydemus and Dionysodorus bring up meaningless arguments such as the impossibilty of falsehood, simply to refute Socrates.

Eristic Argument

Plato defines Euthydemus' and Dionysodorus' argumerntation as 'eristic'. This literally means, "designed for victory." Eristic argument is not a form of argumentation, it is just a method of verbal humiliation and abuse. No matter how you try to refute eristic arguments, the argument is designed so that you will fail. For example, at one point, Euthydemus attempts to prove the impossibility of falsehood.

"Non-facts do not exist do they?"

"No, they don't."

"And things which do not exist do not exist anywhere, do they?"


"Now, is it possible for things which do not exist to be the object of any action, in the sense that things which do not exist anywhere can have anything done to them?

"I dont think so."

"Well then, when politicians speack in the Assembly, isn't that an activity?"

"Yes, it is."

"and if it's an activity, they are doing something.?"


"Then speech is activity, and doing something.?"

He agreed

"So no one, speaks non-existent things: I mean, he would already, in speaking, be doing something, and you have agreed that it is impossible for non-existent things to have anything done to them by anybody. So you have committed to the view that lies never happen: if Dionysodorus speaks, he speaks facts–that is, truth."



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