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Monday, June 13, 2011

How Socrates Dealt with Annoying Blog Commenters

"[In Gorgias,] Polus will have to restrain the prolixity of his speech (makrologia) in which he indulged earlier, because the interminable suave flow of clichés in his speech makes discussion impossible. The condition of Socrates touches upon a problem, familiar to all of us who have had experience with rightist or leftist intellectuals. Discussion is indeed impossible with a man who is intellectually dishonest, who misuses the rules of the game, who by irrelevant profuseness seeks to avoid being nailed down on a point, and who gains the semblance of victory by exhausting the time that sets an inevitable limit to discussion. The only defense possible against such practices is the refusal to continue the discussion; and this refusal is socially difficult because it seems to violate the rules of comity and the freedom of speech... [But Socrates] reminds [Polus] that his freedom to be prolix would destroy the freedom of the interlocutor, if the latter were not permitted to simply go away when he was sick of the oration." -- Eric Voegelin, Plato and Aristotle

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