May 10, 2013

Eristic.

"Eristic, from the ancient Greek word Eris meaning wrangle or strife, often refers to a type of argument where the participants fight and quarrel without any reasonable goal."
The aim usually is to win the argument and/or to engage into a conflict for the sole purpose of wasting time through arguments, not to potentially discover a true or probable answer to any specific question or topic. Eristic is arguing for the sake of conflict as opposed to the seeking of conflict resolution....

According to Schopenhauer, Eristic Dialectic is mainly concerned to tabulate and analyze dishonest stratagems, so that they may at once be recognized and defeated, in order to continue with a productive dialectic debate. It is for this very reason that Eristic Dialectic must admittedly take victory, and not objective truth, for its selfish aim and purpose.
Have you noticed any good eristic lately?

ADDED: I've discovered that what I like to do is something that's just about the opposite of eristic. I like to have conversations in which I'm looking for the truth and I don't care about whether what I'm saying is working to persuade anyone. It's simply a performance of truth-seeking for its own sake and with the full freedom to say everything without concern for whether it drives the reader/listener even further from what I think is the right answer. What's the Greek word for that?

73 comments:

TosaGuy said...

This how my undergrad advisor, when we were discussing my potential for grad school, how academia operates.

edutcher said...

Any post where Ritmo commented.

bagoh20 said...

I think even when it seems pointless, both parties have a reason and a goal, they just rarely (almost never ever) succeed. That's why we have courts - so we can have a winner and a loser no matter what.

Methadras said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gerry said...

I think most internet arguments are eristic. I am guilty of that motivation, and it's a hard habit to break.

A nice word, that.

Thank you, professor.

Methadras said...

Inga, Ritmo, Phx. The are the eristocracy.

gerry said...

Inga, Ritmo, Phx. The are the eristocracy.

Garage.

Ann Althouse said...

"Thank you, professor."

You're welcome.

This post is the first in a series!

Nathan Alexander said...

Ms. Althouse sends a slow, easy pitch right over home plate.

Those who have had the misfortune to engage bad faith arguments of Inga, phx, garage mahal, Andy R., ARM, Ritmo, et al, knock the pitch out of the park.

I guess we can call them the Eris Gang from now on.

Nathan Alexander said...

Sorry, Methedras' term is better.

The Eristocracy. Perfect.

traditionalguy said...

Philosophy.

Nathan Alexander said...

It's simply a performance of truth-seeking for its own sake and with the full freedom to say everything without concern for whether it drives the reader/listener even further from what I think is the right answer. What's the Greek word for that?

Quixotic? No, wait, that's not Greek.

Methadras said...

gerry said...

Inga, Ritmo, Phx. The are the eristocracy.

Garage.


I knew I was forgetting someone when I wrote that.

bagoh20 said...

"The are the eristocracy."

Excellent!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Have you noticed any good eristic lately?

I've told you once.

traditionalguy said...

Erisotica must mean a desire to watch a commenter fight and award style points.

A certain Laurence Meade has won that title and remains unbeaten.

Good faith may be a much desired goal, but in the meantime watching dogfights, cockfights, and Blog commenter fights feeds our reptilian brain.

If Life is a war, than peace must be for us 62 and over guys to calm down and remember it.

Henry said...

What's the Greek word for that?

ou-topos

Sam L. said...

Sometimes the fight is the point, and the goal, and they do it for fun. I used to say that I spent Friday nights splitting hairs with Philadelphia lawyers.

MB said...

Sophism goes with this. In some of my brief tweet discussions re: Benghazi, I received retorts about Bush and how Republicans don't care about infidelity - implying that Progressives are more honorable.

Not that this had anything to do with "the Facts" or "the truth." Also a proven fact is never final and must be re-proven over and over. As so forth.

Chip S. said...

@Methadras, perfect!

The Eristocrats

Nomennovum said...

What's the Greek word for that?

μιλάμε σκατά ταύρου

Xmas said...

Kallisti!

No Smoking! No Spitting!

-The Mgt.

Astro said...

"No you haven't."

Rusty said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Thank you, professor."

You're welcome.

This post is the first in a series!

Is this going to be on the test?

Methadras said...

MB said...

Sophism goes with this.


Sophristocracy? Sopht Eristocracy?

Xmas said...

More on topic, I believe the term you are looking for is "Logos".

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Astro said...

No you haven't.

Thanks- for a while there I though I was just going to be left hanging.

Henry said...

@Nomennovum - Sweet.

phx said...

According to Schopenhauer, Eristic Dialectic is mainly concerned to tabulate and analyze dishonest stratagems, so that they may at once be recognized and defeated, in order to continue with a productive dialectic debate.

That is a very good feature.

JPS said...

Only encountered the word once before, in a Buckley column:

"The suggestion that [I honestly don't remember what it was about, but Daniel Patrick Moynihan was in on it] is the kind of squishy-soft eristic cuckoo-talk that used to make Daniel Patrick Moynihan weep with despair, back when he was at the UN, back when he was fighting the good fight."

TosaGuy: There's a Richard Russo novel in which the narrator comments,

"An outside observer might conclude that the purpose of all academic argument is to become more deeply entrenched in our original positions."

Smilin' Jack said...

I like to have conversations in which I'm looking for the truth and I don't care about whether what I'm saying is working to persuade anyone. It's simply a performance of truth-seeking for its own sake and with the full freedom to say everything without concern for whether it drives the reader/listener even further from what I think is the right answer. What's the Greek word for that?

Google Translate will give you the modern Greek, but you probably are looking for the ancient Greek phrase for "incoherent nonsense." I'm not sure how you would find that--maybe you could consult a UW classics professor.

phx said...

According to Schopenhauer, Eristic Dialectic is mainly concerned to tabulate and analyze dishonest stratagems, so that they may at once be recognized and defeated, in order to continue with a productive dialectic debate.

That sounds close to how I see myself or an important, or good enough reason for argument.

wyo sis said...

"Sometimes the fight is the point, and the goal, and they do it for fun."

"watching dogfights, cockfights, and Blog commenter fights feeds our reptilian brain."


Also known as icky.

Smilin' Jack said...

There's a Richard Russo novel...

Straight Man. Highly recommended.

Marshal said...

phx said...
According to Schopenhauer, Eristic Dialectic is mainly concerned to tabulate and analyze dishonest stratagems, so that they may at once be recognized and defeated, in order to continue with a productive dialectic debate.

That sounds close to how I see myself or an important, or good enough reason for argument.


Apparently phx doesn't realize which side the Eristics are on.

phx said...

Marshal - so explain to me what is wrong with "tabulat[ing] and analyz[ing] dishonest stratagems, so that they may at once be recognized and defeated, in order to continue with a productive dialectic debate"?

You don't like that?

And what do you mean "which side the eristics are on?" Which side are they on?

phx said...

Eristic, from the ancient Greek word Eris meaning wrangle or strife, often refers to a type of argument where the participants fight and quarrel without any reasonable goal.

Doesn't that sound like "trolling"? As far as trolling goes I more or less subscribe to Meade's view from a week or so ago. Some people probably remember that.

Marshal said...

phx said...
Marshal - so explain to me what is wrong with "tabulat[ing] and analyz[ing] dishonest stratagems, so that they may at once be recognized and defeated, in order to continue with a productive dialectic debate"?


Nothing wrong with this. The term however refers to people who tabulate and analyze the dishonest arguments not to those making the dishonest arguments. You seem confused about how the term applies.

yashu said...

What's the Greek word for that?

Dialectic.

Carl said...

There's no Greek for that, Althouse, but I think it may be a dollop of evidence of either a little disconnect from the primate tribal instincts -- a tiny touch of autism, say -- or of a painful oversensitivity to those same instincts, which makes participation in the ordinary cut and thrust of primate dominance games more unpleasant than for most others. To focus on "the search for truth" is in that context an emotional refuge, a psychic defense, kind of the way people who are afraid of death study medicine i.e. put death under the microscope.

I think it's to be noted that you can't focus exclusively on finding the truth in a conversation unless you are very aware of -- in order to mentally discount, ignore, neutralize -- each and every conversational gambit, even the smallest, that is designed to achieve victory and leads away from the truth. You are more aware of Eris than the other participants, who are generally unaware of Eris and the ways in which they serve her.

phx said...

Nothing wrong with this. The term however refers to people who tabulate and analyze the dishonest arguments not to those making the dishonest arguments. You seem confused about how the term applies.

Just because YOU can't tabulate and analyze the arguments doesn't mean that others aren't.

Stop and think. You don't actually need an abacus or a stat book to do this.

Robert Cook said...

"Have you noticed any good eristic lately?"

Hahaha! You've gotta be kidding!

Pettifogger said...

Eristic, as in high-school debates and as in many arguments between my wife and me.

Nathan said...

I am not persuaded by your distinction!

LordSomber said...

Hail Eris, Goddess of Discord.

The Enlightened take things Lightly.

El Pollo Raylan said...

yashu answered Althouse's question:

dialectic

Dennis Hopper explains:
It's very simple dialectics. One through nine. No maybes, no supposes, no fractions. You can't travel in space. You can't go out into space, you know, without like, you know, uh, with fractions. What are you gonna land on? One-quarter? Three-eighths? What are you gonna do when you go from here to Venus or something? That's dialectic physics, okay? Dialectic logic is there's only love and hate. You either love somebody or ya hate 'em. link

El Pollo Raylan said...

phx said...Doesn't that sound like "trolling"? As far as trolling goes I more or less subscribe to Meade's view from a week or so ago. Some people probably remember that.

Are you bisectual?

El Pollo Raylan said...

BTW, welcome back, yashu!

Bob said...

The actual opposite of eristic is irenic.

What Ann describes at the end of the post is just good old philosophy.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Bob said...The actual opposite of eristic is irenic.

Where is Irene?

El Pollo Raylan said...

What's the Greek word for that?

Dyne without the din.

phx said...

I was just thinking about yashu the other day.

wildswan said...

Philosophy, Socratic dialogue, symposium
Maybe also "Diogenes". He went about in broad daylight with a lantern looking for an honest commenter

J2 said...

meander.

El Pollo Raylan said...

maunder

bpm4532 said...

that describes many an argument between me and the missus.

Unknown said...

57 comments in and no one has mentioned the eristic Monty Python?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y

PianoLessons said...

The Greek word for that "truth seeking" is logos (and be very careful about the many fallacies of logic your opponents will throw at you). it helps if you have ethos (and if your opponents do as well). It helps if you resist pathos to seduce (like Sophists and Madison Avenue) your audience into thinking you really can "Bake Someone Happy" with a Betty Crocker cake.

Finally - it matters much that you have kairos - being at the right place at the right time to speak as a rhetor (a writer or speaker)...

Finally - whether you think you are trying to persuade purposefully or not, there is subtext (what you do not say) and situation (when you speak and to whom). The Art of Persuasion is just what we all do from infancy and beyond. That's really all we ever do. Every one of us. All the time.

All human communication seeks to persuade. It's inescapable (as we have word choices - and body language choices)....

Stop. OK. Go On. No. Yes. Whatever.

I actually challenge you to offer up one possible human utterance that is not persuasive.

(This is a grad school Rhet and Comp challenge and as far as I know - it has never been achieved)

PianoLessons said...

Thanks Unknown for the Monty Python You Tube....

It's my belief that we need to teach academic argument to students in high school through college graduation (and beyond as much as any pursue the 'life long learning path' that commencement speakers repeat ad nauseum....

We live in such a serious time on this planet with so many serious problems. We need people who can effectively manage arguments to persuade those who disagree with our "thinking" - we need to all learn how to become much more aware of the power of persuasion in all we do, say and posture.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Unknown said...

57 comments in and no one has mentioned the eristic Monty Python?

See my comment at 11:16, and Astro's response at 12:05

phx said...

It's simply a performance of truth-seeking for its own sake and with the full freedom to say everything without concern for whether it drives the reader/listener even further from what I think is the right answer.

I'm personally not philosophically or even practically sold on that whole "truth-seeking" mission.

I mean I do believe that if any individual is not somewhere in the process of wrestling with the question of "the meaning of our lives" they're probably in bad shape. But I've come to some conclusions about the search for truth over the years.

kentuckyliz said...

Truth seeking in Greek is αναζήτηση της αλήθειας
anazí̱ti̱si̱ ti̱s alí̱theias

The last word sounds almost like Althouse.

Your name is destiny.

kentuckyliz said...

Let's rename this blog Eristopia. A utopia of eristic rasslin'.

kentuckyliz said...

Or The Eristos Zone.

A play on Erroneous Zone by Wayne Dyer.

kentuckyliz said...

Eris...Eros

El Pollo Raylan said...

Question for Althouse: Is there such a thing as a philology major at the UW Letters & Sciences? When I went there that's what I told friends that I wanted to be--a philologist. Then I got distracted by chemistry.

phx said...

Let's rename this blog Eristopia. A utopia of eristic rasslin'.

I like it. Eristos Zone also sounds like Eristos Jones.

~~I Got the Eristos Jones baby, They come and bother me~~

phx said...

Distracted by chemistry
Blinded by science

bagoh20 said...

Seriously, we'd accomplish more with dueling pistols at 20 paces.

phx said...

Seriously, we'd accomplish more with dueling pistols at 20 paces.

Oh sure, YOU might accomplish more.

I vote for watercannons.

yashu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
yashu said...

Hi Pollo & phx! (et y'all).

Haven't been commenting lately, but still habitually lurk. Hope to join you hooligans in Althousic symposia more often, at least once in a while.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Hope to join you hooligans in Althousic symposia more often, at least once in a while.

That would be chiliastic, yashu!