Terrorism is not an abstract subject matter Â– at least not for me. As I set out to write the n-th draft of this lecture (it was never so difficult for me to write a lecture!), the news of the November 21st suicide attack in a bus in the Kiryath Menachem neighborhood in western Jerusalem break through the selfimposed walls of my peace of mind. The bus exploded at 7:28 a.m. There is no doubt about the target: children, young girls (...) and boys going to school, eager to learn and to play. Twelve lives Â– including that of the suicide bomber Â– cut down before they were given the chance to blossom. Forty-eight lives scarred forever. The lives of dozens of families disrupted forever. Trauma, fear, and hatred once more got their heavy toll. Calls for vengeance, for more death and horror, are sure to lead to more deaths in an absurd action-reaction dialectics of horror. As long as these voices prevail on both sides, the senseless bloodbath will no doubt continue. (shrink)
Even conquerors who excelled in oppression, well beyond what Moshe Dayan is capable of doing, sat on thorns and scorpions in most conquered places until they were eradicated. Not to mention the total moral destruction prolonged occupation inflicts to the occupier. Even inevitable occupation is a corrupting occupation..
Three main types of debates have been identified by our research on historical cases of intellectual confrontations in philosophy, science, and theology: discussions, disputes, and controversies. Summary presentation of this trichotomy. The three categories are ideal types.
Kant considered it a scandal that philosophy, unlike science, had been spending its time in fruitless debates, which hindered its progress. In this session, we question Kant’s assessment, and suggest an approach to the history of philosophy that considers controversy as essential in the evolution of philosophical ideas. In his recent work on the Enlightenment, Jonathan Israel has demonstrated the role of the intense debate around radically new philosophical ideas in creating the conceptual underpinnings of revolution and of a new (...) social order. Randall Collins, from another perspective, has highlighted the role of debate in the rise and fall of philosophical schools. Both have thus shown that, without a decidedly ‘dialectical’ approach to intellectual history, especially to the history of philosophy, its understanding and influence can hardly be grasped. As this session will show, this is true not only at the macro-level of relatively long term intellectual conflicts and their effects, but also at the micro-level of detailed analysis and understanding of philosophical texts – their concepts, theses, arguments, theories, and relevance. What we mean by ‘dialectical reframing’ owes much, of course, to the various traditional meanings of ‘dialectics’. Yet, emphasizing the actual activity of debate as the engine of philosophical and intellectual change, permits to investigate how key ideas, such as rationality, emerge through debate, rather than being its given a priori condition. (shrink)
Communication is a crucial component of scientific activity (as of virtually any other domain of human activity, especially in this "communication age" in which we live). As researchers and as citizens, we should all be concerned with the communication of science as well as with communication within science. In this paper, I will deal with one of the key aspects of this topic ג€“ the question whether scientific communication is or should be ג€�transparentג€�. The view that this is or should (...) be the case is often taken for granted both by scientists and the general public. I will challenge this view and suggest that we should learn to live without the illusion that scientific communication is or should be transparent. This idea is closely related, if not derived from, the traditional epistemological conception according to which scientific method is the privileged tool we have for penetrating beyond appearances and discovering the true ג€�nature of thingsג€�, in terms of which all observable phenomena should be ultimately explained. Applying the scientific method should, thus, yield a fully intelligible representation of the world, which in its turn should be transparently communicable. The trouble with this enticing ideal is that it does not correspond to actual practice. Again and again we experience the fact that the ג€�true picture of the worldג€� remains veiled for everyone but a small group of initiated experts in a narrow domain. Is this only a technical problem having to do with the phenomenon of specialization and with the inevitable complexity of the language(s) of science, as it is often suggested? (shrink)
We argue the case for a combination of rhetoric and pragmatics in the analysis of economic discourse. We contend that such a rhetorico-pragmatic approach is a viable alternative to both the excesses of the Â“rhetorical turnÂ” and to the over-reaction of methodologists who discard as irrelevant a careful textual analysis and stick to the belief that economic knowledge progresses only through the conscientious application of Method. We examine two privileged grounds where the rhetorico-pragmatic approach does better than either Pure Rhetoric (...) or Pure Methodology: first, a study of economic controversies as the framework within which economic works take shape; secondly, a study of the cognitive role of metaphors in economic discourse. (shrink)
I am grateful to my friend, Professor Heinrich Schepers, editor of volume VI.4 of Leibniz’s Sämtliche Schriften und Briefe, for the time and critical attention he devotes to my lengthy review of this volume,1 in a detailed reply included in the present issue of this journal.2 Since I believe that criticism and discussion are the master key to intellectual progress, I consider myself to be extremely lucky that my painstaking work has been the object of criticism by the scholar who (...) is most familiar with the texts published in VI.4. I am also grateful to Professor Glenn Hartz, editor of The Leibniz Review, for granting me the opportunity to publish a rejoinder, generously stretching the deadline for its submission, so that it could appear along with Professor Schepers’ reply. I hope this critical exchange will foster further discussion of the issues it touches upon, particularly the reassessment of the nature of Leibniz’s rationalism, and that Leibniz scholarship will be thereby rewarded. (shrink)
My brief contribution to this volume is not, strictly speaking, historical. No careful analysis of documents will be offered, no critical apparatus will be supplied, and some measure of descriptive inadequacy is likely to lurk behind it. Yet, it is historical in a broader sense. For it is a reflection – to some extent speculative, I admit – on the rather mysterious paths that connect personal, social, political, and other historical circumstances, on the one hand, to the emergence of new (...) ideas in a particular human mind, on the other. In a sense, this is a reflection on the singularity of the.. (shrink)
Controversy is a ubiquitous phenomenon in human theoretical and practical life. It manifests itself in various forms, ranging from virulent polemics to polite and well-ordered discussion. It expresses dissent, and may either lead to irreconcilable conflict or pave the way to conflict resolution. It occurs in private and everyday social life, in the courtroom and in politics, as well as in science, the arts, philosophy, and theology. Wherever it occurs, controversy sharpens critical thinking and prevents mental and social stagnation. Rather (...) than a peripheral phenomenon, controversy is the engine of intellectual and practical progress. (shrink)
Whereas the most visible forms of political colonialism have for the most part disappeared from the planet by the end of the millennium, several of its consequences remain with us. Criticism of colonialism, accordingly, has shifted its focus to its more subtle and lasting manifestations. Prominent among these are the varieties of what came to be known as the ‘colonization of the mind’. This is one of the forms of ‘epistemic violence’ that it is certainly the task of philosophers to (...) contribute to identify and struggle against. ‘Postcolonial’ thinkers have undertaken not only to analyze this phenomenon, but also to devise strategies for effectively combating and hopefully eradicating colonialism’s most damaging aspect – the taking possession and control of its victims’ minds. My purpose in this paper is to contribute, qua philosopher, to both of these undertakings. I begin by trying to clarify the nature of the colonization of the mind and its epistemic underpinnings and the typical reactions to it. Next, I examine examples of these reactions with their corresponding analyses and strategies. The assumptions underlying them reveal certain inherent paradoxes, which call into question the possibility of a full decolonization of mind. I conclude by suggesting an alternative strategy and a series of means to implement it. (shrink)
Dichotomies are ubiquitous in deliberative thinking, in decision making and in arguing in all spheres of life.[i] Sticking uncompromisingly to a dichotomy may lead to sharp disagreement and paradox, but it can also sharpen the issues at stake and help to find a solution. Dichotomies are particularly in evidence in debates, i.e., in argumentative dialogical exchanges characterized by their agonistic nature. The protagonists in a debate worth its name hold positions that are or that they take to be opposed; they (...) argue against each other’s positions; and they defend their positions from the adversary’s attacks. In some cases, this may lead to a polarization of the debate through treating it as grounded on one or more dichotomies. In others, the contenders may construe the opposition as non-dichotomous and therefore less irreconcilable. Whereas the former attitude, which leads to ‘dichotomization’, is likely to radicalize a debate, rendering it difficult – sometimes impossible – to resolve, the latter, which leads to ‘de-dichotomization’, opens possibilities of solution of the debate other than all out victory of one side and defeat of the other. In addition to its effect on the outcome of a debate, the contenders’ attitude(s) towards dichotomies in the debate’s management has further, important implications. It is intrinsically connected with the typology of debates and their typical argumentative moves. For the appropriateness of one or the other of these attitudes for best capturing the nature of the antagonism that underlies a debate is in fact an indicator of the kind of debate it actually is or is perceived by the contenders to be. Furthermore, such ‘attitudes’ are expressed by the contenders’ preferred choices of argumentative moves; and these, in turn, can be recognized, in a given debate context, as subservient either to a dichotomizing or to a de-dichotomizing strategy vis-à-vis a dichotomy (or ‘family of dichotomies’) taken to be at the root of the divergence.. (shrink)
In this paper, I wish to present and defend the thesis that the impasse at which the philosophy and history of science find themselves in the last couple of decades is due, to a large extent, either to the complete neglect or to a misguided treatment of t he role of scientific controversies in the evolution of science.
s to the Cognitive Sciences, in their excessively brief historical surveys, usually attribute to Thomas Hobbes the merit of having been the first thinker to propose the computational theory of the mind. What they overlook is (a) the fact that Hobbes explicitly assigned to..
It was a tie; the heavenly vote was split right down the middle -- two in favor; two against. At issue -- "Should man be created?" The ministering angels formed parties: Love said, "Yes, let him be created, because he will dispense acts of love"; while Truth argued, "No, let him not be created, for he is a complete fake". Righteousness countered, "Yes, let him be created, because he will do righteous deeds; and Peace demurred, "Let him not be created, (...) for he is one mass of contention". The score was even. Love and Righteousness in favor, Truth and Peace against. What did the Lord do? He took Truth and hurled it to the ground, smashing it into thousands of jagged pieces. Thus he broke the tie. Now, two to one in favor, man was created. The ministering angels dared to ask the Master of the Universe, "Why do You break Your emblem, Truth?" for indeed Truth was His seal and emblem. He answered, "Let truth spring from the earth". (shrink)
In a number of papers,[i] I have argued that, in addition to the ‘hard’ rationality through which Leibniz’s rationalism is most familiar, it is imperative to acknowledge the existence and centrality in his thought of another form of rationality, which I proposed to dub ‘soft’. Several prominent Leibniz researchers – some of them present in the meeting from which the present book originates – have contested, on a variety of grounds, my suggestion, giving rise to an interesting and productive debate.[ii] (...) The purpose of this chapter is not to respond directly to these criticisms. Its contribution to our ongoing discussion consists rather in scrutinizing an important instance of the hard-soft distinction in Leibniz’s work. Focusing on this instance will permit not only a better understanding of its seeming paradoxical nature but also, at the meta-level, to realize the rational power of softness as an argumentative strategy. I believe these two results will sharpen and deepen the debate and lead us together, if not to its solution, at least to clarifying the issues at stake. The central, and prima facie most problematic case, of Leibniz’s conception and use of rationality I will examine is his sui generis ‘dialectic’, which comprises what may be properly called his ‘art of controversies’. In the vast territory of rationality, Leibniz’s ‘art of controversies’ occupies a peculiar position. He conceives it sometimes as a calculus that decides rigorously and unquestionably which of the opposed positions is true and which is false, and sometimes as a negotiation strategy leading to a conciliation of the adversaries’ positions, which cannot therefore be logically contradictory. While the former is a typical ‘hard’ rationality approach, the latter is typically ‘soft’ in nature. A question that immediately arises is why, instead of treating these two forms of handling controversies as two fundamentally different Leibnizian approaches to quite distinct kinds of debate-generating opposition, should one insist in subsuming them under one label.. (shrink)
blandior ratio : C, 34). I will first survey how extensive, albeit usually overlooked, is Leibniz’s concern with these “weaker” forms of reasoning, and how crucial they are for many of his practical and theoretical endeavors. I will then trace back this acute need of Leibniz´s brand of rationalism to the peculiar nature of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR), as opposed to the other basic principle of his philosophy, the Principle of Contradiction (PC). I will present here only the (...) bare bones of the argument, in a sort of extended summary, omitting the textual support as well the references to the relevant secondary literature. (shrink)
I was in Bucharest for a few days, not long before the fall of Ceaucescu’s regime. The fear, both of the authorities and of the people, which reigned in the city was vividly felt everywhere. To be sure, the communist regime was based on a doctrine that called itself ‘dialectic’. Unfortunately, it was a ‘dialectic’ that had nothing to do with dialogue, with listening to the other, respecting the other, and learning from the other. It assumed that ‘truth’ and ‘justice’ (...) were the absolute monopoly of one side – the side which enforced its monopoly by the sheer force of power. The atmosphere couldn’t but be of repression, since there was no room for alternative ideas, which for the dominant ‘dialectic’ were necessarily wrong. There was no room for argument, debate and persuasion other than brainwashing and the passive acceptance of the ideas in power. The reigning doctrine was the nemesis of dialectic, for it denied its sine qua non: tolerance. Sorin grew up in this atmosphere, where in spite of its oppressive character, he developed a concern for truth, a tolerant and gentle character, and a sense for the fundamental value of rational persuasion. No wonder that he was attracted by dialogue and argumentation, and devoted his research to them – not merely as an object of study, but also as a method of research and a form of life. It is an honor for me, as a member of IADA, the association devoted to the study of dialogue founded by Sorin, of ISSA, the society whose object of study is argumentation, of IASC, the association that recognizes and investigates the essential role of controversy in the growth of knowledge and in the improvement of society, and as a friend, to pay a well deserved tribute to Sorin Stati’s memory and to his achievements. He was one of the pioneers in the contemporary study of argumentation. Although his research in this field focused on the linguistic analysis of argumentative discourse, he did not neglect other approaches. His role in leading to the organization, in July 2002 in Lugano, of a memorable conference where the above mentioned three international associations joined forces with the Università della Svizzera Italiana in an interdisciplinary, cooperative as well as contrastive drive for increasing our understanding of the multi-faceted phenomenon of argumentation, was decisive.. (shrink)
If we had a balance of reasons, where the arguments presented in favor and against the case were weighed precisely and the verdict could be pronounced in favor of the most inclined scale ... [we would have] a more valuable art than that miraculous science of producing gold.
This chapter is about three distinguished representatives of three traditions of controversy – Jewish, Muslim, and Christian – and about one resilient conflict – the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. My purpose is to single out in the thought and practice of the selected three representatives approaches to controversy and conflict that might perhaps offer innovative ideas as to how to increase the chances of solving the conflict in question. In a conflict like this, where two different traditions and cultures confront each other, (...) and the tendency of the contenders is to highlight their differences, it is important to try to single out those elements of similarity or at least of sufficient closeness in order to allow for the overcoming of the differences and, eventually for reconciliation. To be sure, both the thinkers considered and the circumstances in which they operated are extremely different. Yet, one of the purposes of this chapter is to show that it makes sense to compare their approaches and even to try to combine them into a set of complementary models capable to help us to overcome the deadlock in which the attempts to solve a current conflict by lack of new ideas – as analysts and politicians claim. Relevant new ideas, I contend, may come not only from our present creativity, but also from that of great thinkers of the past; not only from one’s own tradition of controversy, but also from that of other traditions. The methodological innovation I want to introduce here is thus simply the idea of “fishing for good ideas in the past”. Old ideas that remained unnoticed or unapplied may prove to be useful for reframing our current dilemmas. We will seek their help by examing three quite different models of conflict resolution, drawn from King Solomon, Ibn Rushd, and Leibniz. (shrink)
The man who is seeking to convert another in the proper manner should do so in a dialectical and not in a contentious way ... he who asks questions in a contentious spirit and he who in replying refuses to admit what is apparent ... are both of them bad dialecticians.
Je vous souhaite la bienvenue à la Faculté de Lettres Lester and Sally Entin, de l'Université de Tel Aviv. Je tiens à vous exprimer, particulièrement, notre satisfaction de vous avoir ici, malgré certains évenements tragiques du mois dernier, qui ont fait que certains participants dans un autre colloque -- sur "Modèles de Critique" -- tenu à cette meme faculté, ont annulé leur participation. Nous, ici en Israel, ne sommes pas du tout heureux des évenements mentionnés, auxquels des vies innocentes ont (...) été sacrifiées à la suite de nos actions militaires erronnées. Nous, citoyens d'Israel, avons critiqué sevèrement les actions qui ont conduit a cette perte de vies innocentes. Je crois que je parle au nom de plusieurs citoyens d'Israel, ainsi qu'au nom de la plupart des professeurs et étudiants de cette faculté, en disant ce que je viens de dire. Je respecte, bien entendu, le droit de toute personne -- ici ou ailleurs -- d'exprimer sa critique aux actions du gouvernement d'Israel. Je me reserve pourtant le droit de critiquer une critique indiscriminée, addressée aussi bien à un acte spécifique de notre gouvernement qu'à tous les citoyens d'Israel, même ceux qui s'opposent tout à fait à ce genre d'actes. Il me semble que de telles critiques "automatiques" et "globales" tiennent à un type de préjugé, typique de certains cercles intellectuels, que je croyais -- peut être trop naivement -- disparu avec le progrés indeniable que nous avons fait dans la route de la paix. Sans doute il reste beaucoup à faire dans cette route et il y a beaucoup à critiquer dans ce qui a été déjà fait. Soyez assurés que nous lutterons pour garantir une paix juste et humaine pour tous les peuples dans notre region. Je m'attendrais, pourtant, de la part des intellectuels du monde, la capacité de discernement entre ceux qui se sont engagés -- des deux côtés du conflict -- dans un processus de paix, qui n'est pas exempt d'erreurs (dont quelques uns -- commis par les deux cotés -- sont sans doute condamnables), et ceux qui s'y opposent, et dons les actions ne sont pas des "erreurs", mais des efforts concertés pour arreter le processus de paix. Ne pas exercer cette capacité de discernement tient certainement au préjugé -- thème de notre colloque.. (shrink)
Adam Smith’s lasting fame certainly does not come from his work on language. He published very little on this topic and he is not usually mentioned in standard histories of linguistics or the philosophy of language. His most elaborate publication on the subject is a 1761 monograph on the origin and development of languages (FoL). Smith’s monograph joins a long list of speculative work on this then fashionable topic (cf. Hewes 1975, 1996). The fact that he later included it as (...) an appendix to his successful.. (shrink)
_Ever since Descartes singled out the ability to use natural language appropriately in any given circumstance as the proof_ _that humans – unlike animals and machines – have minds, an idea that Turing transformed into his well-known test to_ _determine whether machines have intelligence, the close connection between language and cognition has been widely_ _acknowledged, although it was accounted for in quite different ways. Recent advances in natural language processing, as_ _well as attempts to create “embodied conversational agents” which couple (...) language processing with that of its natural_ _bodily correlates (gestures, facial expression and gaze direction), in the hope of developing human-computer interfaces_ _based on natural – rather than formal – language, have again brought to the fore the question of how far we can hope_ _machines to be able to master the cognitive abilities required for language use. In this paper, I approach this issue from a_ _different angle, inquiring whether language can be viewed as a “cognitive technology”, employed by humans as a tool_ _for the performance of certain cognitive tasks. I propose a definition of “cognitive technology” that encompasses both_ _external (or “prosthetic”) and internal cognitive devices. A number of parameters in terms of which a typology of_ _cognitive technologies of both kinds can be sketched is also set forth. It is then argued that inquiring about language’s_ _role in cognition allows us to re-frame the traditional debate about the relationship between language and thought, by_ _examining how specific aspects of language actually influence cognition – as an environment, a resource, or a tool. This_ _perspective helps bring together the contributions of the philosophical “linguistic turn” in epistemology and the incipient_ _“epistemology of cognitive technology” It also permits a more precise and fruitful discussion of the question whether, to_ _what extent, and which of the language-based cognitive technologies we naturally use can be emulated by the kinds of_ _technologies presently or in the foreseeable future available.shrink)
I present and defend the thesis that the impasse at which the philosophy and history of science find themselves in the last couple of decades is due, to a large extent, either to the complete neglect or to a misguided treatment of the role of scientific controversies in the evolution of science. In order to do so, I first provide a preliminary clarification of the impasse to which I refer. I go on to explain why I see the study of (...) controversies as a fundamental step in solving it. I locate controversies within the set of empirical phenomena of the class of ‘polemical discourses’, and I single out the properties of controversies which explain their potential role for solving the impasse. I then show how the extant epistemological options are unable to handle controversies in a satisfactory form, which explains their inability to solve the impasse. I conclude by formulating an essential desideratum for the solution of the impasse. (shrink)
In spite of the widespread belief that there is (or at least there was) a clearcut and deep opposition between two forms of philosophizing vaguely characterized as 'continental' and 'analytic', it is not easy to find actual examples of debates between philosophers that clearly belong to the opposed camps. Perhaps the reason is that, on the assumption that the alleged 'divide' is so deep, each side feels that there is no point in arguing against the other, for argumentation would quickly (...) be replaced by invective. In this paper I analyse one of the few recent examples of an across-divide debate -the Searle -Derrida polemic. Using a threefold typology of debates, I try to show that, in spite of the violent and sarcastic tone employed by both contenders, there is enough common ground, questioning of not-argued-for assumptions, and serious argumentation (on both sides) to consider this debate more than just an irrational dispute. (shrink)
It happened to me one day to say that Cartesianism, in what good it has, was only the anteroom of true philosophy. A person in the company, who frequented the court, was well read, and even had ideas about science, pressed the figure into an allegory-maybe a little too far. For, he asked me whether I didn’t think that one could say, along the same line, that the ancients led us up the staircase, that the modem school had arrived at (...) the guards’ room, and that, if the innovators of our century had managed to reach the anteroom, he wished me the honor of introducing us into Nature’s sanctum. This parallel made us all laugh, and I told him, “You see, Sir, your comparison has rejoiced the company. But you forgot that between the anteroom and the sanctum there is the audience chamber, and that it will be enough if we obtain audience, without purporting to penetrate in the inner sanctum” (VE, p. 1867). (shrink)