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The Ethics of Dispute - Live Reading

Tonight we will explore the ethics surrounding dispute by reading from one of Kant's lectures.


Kant, Blomberg Logic, from the Fourth Section, "Of the truth of learned cognition":

. . . For it is a certain principium: We can never arrive at truth when we are always disputing, when one is always contradicting the other.

Every discovery of an error that is in fact crude and obvious is very sad.  One would prefer not to make such sad discoveries, then, [but instead] to help one another mutually and in friendship, to support each other, and not always to act against the other.

Thus instead of contradicting a thing, one will have simply to investigate whether there isn't actually a truth to be found in it, [and] what needs to be supplies [; one will have to] act in every case in a social way, and then to make comprehensible to the one who errs, in a way that is least biting and is instead loving, how it is not surprising that he was able to err so very easily.

This lazy way of judging, this good-heartedness of sentiment that is so fitting, is just as necessary for the attainment of honest cognition as it every may be in common life.

But naturally, therefore, there is no total error.  Otherwise the understanding would have to contradict and act against itself and its precepts.

Errors, however great and important they seem, are always only particular.

One cannot instruct anyone except through what remains of the understanding that is still in him.  One cannot improve a person except through what remains of the good that is still in him.

In instructing the understanding and improving the will I must of course always presuppose something true and something good.

Any other man's judgment is always a judgment of one of those men whose judgment, taken together, is my judge and is the greatest judge of the products of my understanding.

A contradiction is of course nothing but an occasion where one says yes, but the other, in contrast, says no.

It follows that this must naturally to a certain extent disturb any rational man.  But it is a universal duty of a philosopher in such a case always to aid humanity universally and to think generously: these opinions, seemingly so bizarre and absurd, are perhaps not as badly thought, not as absurd, as it may seem.

Everything that unifies men and makes them sociable actually contributes much toward furthering the perfection of the whole of the human race.  Conflict, however, produces nothing.  It holds everywhere, and so in the whole world, among the learned:
Concordia res parvae crescunt, discordia dilabuntur. (Through concord small things grow, through discord they fall apart.)

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  • Brian

    This was great. Insightful conversation

    July 18, 2013

  • Ivan

    Swamped with work

    July 18, 2013

  • Rick O.

    Which lecture?

    June 15, 2013

    • Erik C.

      Reading from the "Bloomberg Logic"

      June 15, 2013

    • Ivo

      "I plan on throwing a monkey wrench into discussion by essentially agreeing with everything you say. " - I'll NOT let you do that...! :)

      July 13, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    My first meeting with the group. I look forward to it.

    1 · July 12, 2013

  • Hussein

    sounds interesting and practical!

    July 6, 2013

  • Brian

    one angle that interests me is how Socrates was perceived as being rather aggressive by laypersons. I think dispute and power relations is the natural stance people have toward each other until they learn an alternative to temporal law, law of nature

    June 14, 2013

    • Rick O.

      ... as in dispute/power relations is the wrong path, and an alternative to nature (tbd) is the right path?

      June 15, 2013

    • Brian


      June 30, 2013

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