Marcelo DASCAL

What would be the Retort? From Self-serving Dialogue to Controversy.

samedi 2 octobre, 11h20-11h50

Résumé de la communication :

Though Leibniz was undoubtedly interested in engaging in a philosophical exchange with Locke, his attempts to achieving this were unsuccessful. The Nouveaux Essais, which might have been the basis for an exciting true dialogue and presumably for a true controversy, remained in fact a monologue in dialogical form. As such, it expresses Leibniz's own understanding of Locke's Essay and his response to its Leibniz-filtered reading. However fairly Philalèthe paraphrases Locke's claims, Locke himself is not there to eventually correct inevitable his fictional representative's misrepresentations of his positions. More importantly, he is not there to retort to Théophile's – Leibniz's representative in the dialogue – comments, shifts of emphasis, extrapolations, counter-arguments, omissions, and other argumentative moves. Locke's absence does not give Leibniz the opportunity to face real opposition, to really confront a philosophical logos, ethos, and pathos deeply different from his own. He is deprived, thus, of the possibility to develop, sharpen and perhaps even reshape his own position dialectically, in the light of a confrontation with a live opponent, capable of standing his ground and surprising him at each turn of speech. I have argued elsewhere how important are in vivo controversies in the evolution of ideas and how their import in this respect can only be gathered through a detailed analysis of their discursive form. I have also argued that Leibniz developed was aware of this fact and actually practiced a self-conscious dialogical dialectics. In line with this previous work, I have conceived the ambitious project of reconstructing, out of the texts of the Essay, the Nouveaux Essais, and other sources, what would have been the real debate between Leibniz and Locke had it occurred. In this pilot presentation, I will sample a few sections of each of the four books and apply to them a "dialectical reconstruction methodology". This is intended not to eliminate the inevitable speculative element in any kind of reconstruction, but at least to reduce it by making explicit and discussable the criteria used. I hope that the criticism of the results by the other participants in the conference will give me enough dialectical feedback to face the more ambitious task.