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Fr. 673

September 17, 2015
  1. To any complication of selfhood, there must be joined a theoretical throughline which itself issues in a new set of (discursive) practices which aim at relaunching discussion.

As per Healy, to any call for greater nuance must be joined an equally powerful call to abstract from the new and make of the nuance something more compact. That is why it is essential to draw attention to the initial reasons for our call to nuance: the inadequacy of contemporary discursive practices.

This problem manifests itself in numerous ways in the world of political discourse, most notably in the form of disagreement. If some level of disagreement is always to be expected, the particular form which disagreement may taken can erode the bases for future discussion and disagreement. These forms might decline as follows:

A. We might consider as healthy a dialogue in which, after exposing their reasons honestly and appealing to the other’s own reasons, two interlocutors draw closer in their positions while still disagreeing on particular points.

B. We might likewise consider as healthy a dialogue in which, after exposing their reasons honestly and appealing to the other’s own reasons, two interlocutors remain distant in their positions and “agree to disagree”. (For certain discourse theorists, this case may prove a practical impossibility; the fact of exposing honestly and appealing to the other’s reasons is likely to have the effect envisaged in A.).)

C. We might consider as unhealthy a dialogue in which two interlocutors do not expose their reasons honestly. This may the case where an interlocutor fails to expose the real reason for belief b in hope of political or monetary gain, out of shame, etc..

D. We might consider as unhealthy a dialogue in which two interlocutors do not appeal to the other’s reasons. This may the case where an interlocutor fails to tailor his or her attempts at persuasion to the other’s conceptual background, whether out of inability, unwillingness or bad faith, such that the other is presented with no reasons that he or she could possibly accept.

E. We might consider as unhealthy a dialogue in which, having made an initial (unsuccessful) attempt to expose reasons honestly and appeal to the other’s reasons, two interlocutors proceed to stop the conversation there. This may the case where an interlocutor considers the other’s proffered reason to be a “conversation-stopper”.

F. We might consider as unhealthy a dialogue in which two interlocutors cite the inadmissibility of the other’s reasons as cause for dismissal. This may the case where an interlocutor fails to justify his or her position in terms acceptable to the other or a certain discursive sphere, for example, public reasons in the private sphere or private reasons in the public sphere.

G. We might consider as unhealthy a dialogue in which two interlocutors cite the divergence between their conceptual backgrounds as cause for dismissal. This may the case where an interlocutor deems his or her vocabulary to be untranslatable into the other’s.

H. Finally, we might consider as unhealthy a dialogue in which two interlocutors cite the inability of their positions to evolve as cause for dismissal. This may the case where an interlocutor considers his or her position as fixed, eternal or unopen to negotiation, be it for historical, religious or other reasons.

If forms A.) and B.) preserve the possibility of future discourse or, at the very least, do nothing to dissuade it, forms C.) through H.) act as an impediment not simply to the ongoing discussion but to the institution and practice of discourse themselves. Moreover, these unhealthy forms stem in part from an incomplete vision of self, i.e. that which we have taken pains to fill out through nuance.

 

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