Re: foucault on polemics

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Thank you Celia for reminding us of this

celia guichal wrote:

> A fragment in
> Michel Foucault, "Discourse and truth: the problematization of parrhesia."
> (six lectures given at the University of California at Berkeley, Oct-Nov.
> 1983; ed. by Joseph Pearson in 1985.
> ...
> P.R. Why is it that you dont engage in polemics ?
> M.F. I like discussions, and when I am asked questions, I try to answer
> them. Its true that I dont like to get involved in polemics. If I open a
> book and see that the author is accusing an adversary of infantile leftism
> I shut it again right away. Thats not my way of doing things; I dont
> belong to the world of people who do things that way. I insist on this
> difference as something essential: a whole morality is at stake, the one
> that concerns the search for truth and the relation to the other.
> In the serious play of questions and answers, in the work of reciprocal
> elucidation, the rights of each person are in some sense immanent in the
> discussion. They depend only on the dialogue situation. The person asking
> the questions is merely exercising the right that has been given him: to
> remain unconvinced, to perceive a contradiction, to require more
> information, to emphasize different postulates, to point out faulty
> reasoning, and so on. As for the person answering the questions, he too
> exercises a right that does not go beyond the discussion itself; by the
> logic of his own discourse, he is tied to what he has said earlier, and by
> the acceptance of dialogue he is tied to the questioning of other. Questions
> and answers depend on a gamea game that is at once pleasant and
> difficultin which each of the two partners takes pains to use only the
> rights given him by the other and by the accepted form of dialogue.
> The polemicist , on the other hand, proceeds encased in privileges that
> he possesses in advance and will never agree to question. On principle, he
> possesses rights authorizing him to wage war and making that struggle a just
> undertaking; the person he confronts is not a partner in search for the
> truth but an adversary, an enemy who is wrong, who is armful, and whose very
> existence constitutes a threat. For him, then the game consists not of
> recognizing this person as a subject having the right to speak but of
> abolishing him as interlocutor, from any possible dialogue; and his final
> objective will be not to come as close as possible to a difficult truth but
> to bring about the triumph of the just cause he has been manifestly
> upholding from the beginning. The polemicist relies on a legitimacy that his
> adversary is by definition denied.
> Perhaps, someday, a long history will have to be written of polemics,
> polemics as a parasitic figure on discussion and an obstacle to the search
> for the truth.
> >From: Patrick Crosby <pcrosby@xxxxxxxx>
> >Reply-To: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> >To: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> >Subject: Re: if -- And
> >Date: Tue, 03 Jul 2001 09:39:47 -0700
> >
> Glen,
> Come on dude, this is all a bunch of bullcrap and you know it. Plato's
> texts, like all texts, stand on their own. Your claim "to have known Plato
> the person" is laughable. I've been subscribed to a number of lists, but
> I've never seen such psyco-babble in all my life. Some of you are even worse
> than the Ayn Rand followers, and they're some of the dumbest people on the
> planet. The reason why you and a large number of other people are doing what
> you do is obvious: it's all you can do. And the reason it's all you can do
> is because you haven't yet educated yourselves to the point that you can
> read and understand the texts involved, and comment upon them intelligently.
> In essence, what a number of you are saying is this: "Well, maybe I can't
> understand the text, but I can understand that the author liked to have sex
> just like I do! And that the author pissed and crapped just like I do! I can
> talk about all of that with authority! Nobody can put out crap any better
> than I can!"
> Well, it was fun making light of you pseudo-intellectual morons for a while,
> but the novelty of it has worn off. In fact, I now find it disturbing to see
> that ability of so many people to think in this "post modern" era has eroded
> to such an extent. Go buy yourselves some Foucault love-dolls and have your
> fun. I want nothing further to do with this silliness.
> _________________________________________________________________________
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