I never care if someone agrees with me, at least as far as my philosophic positions are concerned. This includes my (former) students. All I have ever asked is that they understand — or at least try to understand — what I'm saying.
Argument is boring. What's there to argue about? Whether the proliferation of difference is....what? True? Good for the world? I don't care about either question, not really.
And I have to admit I've always been rather confused when it comes to argument. How does one go about it? It seems to me that an argument must be premised on some kind of common ground — the interlocutors have to agree to what certain terms mean, not to mention to what the very terms of the argument are. And how does one go about this without arguing? Argument seems literally impossible to me.
Now, in my experience, most argument is not about the subject matter per se but about interpersonal posturing and peculiar emotive releases. This posturing and these releases may be important components of civic life but a) they are not about the ideas; and b) they're, well, boring.
Unfortunately, for some students, arguing with the professor is an essential part of education. When they push back on the professor, they imagine themselves as good students. Such is our Socratic inheritance: argument, and opposition, is the stuff of thought.
But not in my world view and not in the world view I once taught. What I enjoy is the monologue and the conversation. In the monologue, someone holds forth, generously bestowing the audience with his or her spin on things. The more monologues the better, especially if they are strange and beautiful.
Conversations, too, make my heart go pitter patter. In a conversation — a good conversation —, the participants try together to push, pull, fold, spin ideas into strange and beautiful shapes, a collaborative monologue, if you will.
Some students of mine interpreted my prohibition of argument as conceit: I think I'm right. Well, that's true. I do think I'm right, at least when I'm teaching. After all, I am the professor. But that is not why I prohibit argument. I prohibit argument for the reasons stated above and because it inhibits understanding.
Needless to say, there are those opposed to my position on opposition. Fortunately, I'm not obliged to oppose them. I prefer the Bugs Bunny method — change the terms of the conversation. When Bugs is being chased, he doesn't just run, he turns into a woman or starts dancing. That is, he refuses to submit to the terms of opposition and so shifts the very terms of the dynamic. Deleuze and Guattari call this a "line of flight," a way out of the impasse of contradiction and opposition.
I know it may seem odd to be a rhetorician who disdains argument. But I don't actually disdain argument, I disdain a particular kind of argument — oppositional argument. For me, everything is an argument in that everything is a position — a chair, a building, an idea, a backwards cap, Kants 3rd Critique. And most arguments are not oppositional or dictatorial. Most arguments generously proffer their position: go like this. And if these positions are not generous, it is my job to evade, elude, and do what I must not to be squashed. But I'm not going to argue.
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