Argumentation in a Time of Hierarchy

Wendat cast a similarly jaundiced eye at French habits of conversation. Sagard was surprised and impressed by his hosts’ eloquence and powers of reasoned argument, skills honed by near-daily public discussions of communal affairs; his hosts, in contrast, when they did get to see a group of Frenchmen gathered together, often remarked on the way they seemed to be constantly scrambling over each other and cutting each other off in conversation, employing weak arguments, and overall (or so the subtext seemed to be) not showing themselves to be particularly bright. People who tried to grab the stage, denying others the means to present their arguments, were acting in much the same way as those who grabbed the material means of subsistence and refused to share it; it is hard to avoid the impression that Americans saw the French as existing in a kind of Hobbesian state of ‘war of all against all’.

dawn-of-everythingch. 2

tl;dr: The intrinsic relation between reasoned debate and the rejection of arbitrary power

Certains sont allés plus loin et ont fait remarquer, non sans frustration, que les sauvages du Nouveau Monde semblaient plus intelligents, dans l’ensemble, que les gens avec lesquels ils avaient l’habitude de traiter à la maison (par exemple, ’ ils sont presque tous plus intelligents dans leurs affaires, leurs discours, leurs politesses, leurs rapports, leurs tours et leurs subtilités que les citoyens et marchands les plus avisés en France ’. [28]) Le point clé pour les fins de la présente étude est que les Jésuites ont reconnu une relation intrinsèque entre le refus du pouvoir arbitraire, un débat politique ouvert et inclusif, et le goût de l’argumentation raisonnée.


Perhaps there is a connection that this illustrates between the loss of meaning from modern life and the ceding of arbitrary power of capitalsemantic-drain—it doesn't even matter how good your arguments are, how sound your logic, how significant or meaningful your contributions, when those in power (aka those with $$$) are granted the right to do whatever they please. And what they please is precisely to maintain and amass more of such arbitrary rights.


semantic-drain Schwindt, Oriana. 2019. “Semantic Drain and the Meaninglessness of Modern Work”. Schwindterwonderland. [link] ↩︎ 1

sagesse-kandiaronk Graeber, David, and David Wengrow. 2019. “La Sagesse De Kandiaronk: La Critique Indigène, Le Mythe Du Progrès Et La Naissance De La Gauche”. Revue Du MAUSS Permanente. [link] ↩︎ 1

dawn-of-everything Graeber, David, and David Wengrow. 2021. The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. Signal. ↩︎ 1