The Literary Magazine October 2007: Great quarrels between philosophers

Posted: October 10, 2007 in Literary Magazine, October 2007 Issues

Benefits of the controversy
By Jean-Louis Hoots

L’art of the polemic goes up with highest Antiquity “Polemos [ the conflict ] is the father of all things and the king of all things”, affirmed Héraclite. All l’histoire of Greek philosophy can be summarized with a succession of arguments. Oscillating between theoretical debates and personal attacks, refutation and invective, this practice of the controversy, lengthily ground in the Platonic dialogues, n’a ceased d’échauffer philosophers. In the middle of the XIXe century, Schopenhauer reformulated of them the rules and the tricks in a treated court, nicely entitled L’Art to always d’avoir reason. Enumerating thirty-eight stratagems, the philosopher taught how to be right at all costs by sapping the arguments of l’adversaire and while showing himself of worse faith than him. After having suggested many easy ways, pretences and pro­vocations, Schopenhauer advised like ultimate ad personam l’attaque recourse, by showing “die­sobligeant, aggressive, offensive, coarse”.

This file of the literary Magazine is made l’écho various invectives, insults, mocking remarks and insults that the philosophers during two millenia launched out. Perhaps one will reproach us for bringing back squabbles sometimes worthy d’une playground “polé­the mists disgust me”, said Bernanos, repenting the pannings of which it overpowered so many of its contemporaries. The polemic, when it concerns the mania, is useless, even degrading. But it can be salutary when it emerges with relevance to revive the debate. It s’apparente then with a tournament where it s’agit less to embank l’adversaire that to d’enrichir a common reflexion.
This file wants to be an illustration of the good use of the dialectical one. It recalls by the menu the most famous duels, and most fertile, of l’histoire of philosophy “the controversy is often beneficial with l’un as with l’autre, of the fact qu’ils rub their heads between them, and is used for each one d’eux to rectify its own thoughts, and also to conceive new sights”, concludes in its Schopenhauer treaty which, definitely, had…

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