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Alcibiade's dialogue

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  • Médéric Laitier
    Dear Kierkegaardians, I don t know what other may feel but I claim I know what I feel and I feel that time has come for some distraction. I beseech all my
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2004
      Dear Kierkegaardians,

      I don't know what other may feel but I claim I know what I feel and I feel that time has come for some distraction. I beseech all my potential readers not to take anything in the present message (at least from the next sentence on to the end for otherwise comedy may result of myself) too personally, which, in some way, is equivalent to too seriously. As it has recently appeared on this forum that an author can only be an author if he managed to reach his intentions in his communication (which seems to me awfully serious a claim) and as I firmly hold to be the author of the present and the following, I shall expose, I suppose, my intentions first otherwise, how could anyone assess whether I managed to reach them or not -- I feel the latter issue could actually be a matter for serious investigation and debate, fortunately enough I do not feel committed to the serious today. My intentions in this article are a single intention: to raise the amusement of some of its readers. As I am also a reader of it and since I am easily amused, Kravet shouldn't be to difficult to fulfil. Enough with preambules, happy holidays to you all who belive in the holy and happy (non-holy)days to the rest of you.

      Yours faithfully,

      Alcibiade's dialogue or how my happy neighbour reached an absolute verity.

      A dialectical game with a view to comedy reported by Médéric Laitier (and the fruitful and cruicial collaboration of my neighbour Alcibiade)

      Alcibiade, one of my friendly neighbour came the other day and visited me with a jubilant look upon his face, to such an extent I could not help commenting:

      "You look quite happy today!"
      "Yes, he answered, indeed. And there is a reason for it, he added."

      I was very pleased that there was a reason but claim I have enough dialectic vested in me to say I would have been equally so if the opposite had been true. I considered for an extra second (or so) his statement, 'looked' so to speak at the: "And" and suddenly realised that what he truly meant was a completely different matter and felt, as a good-willing neighbour, I was thus to proceed:

      "Oh! And what would this special reason would be?"
      "Oh, yeah; the reason. Well, I have understood something."

      The intonation he had (or the intonation I then perceived) may induce the necissity for an impropriety, namely the upper case at something turned there into a: Something -- having not yet read in the threads of this forum anything about the correctness of such an impropiety as regards the fact of being an author, and full of fear and trembling at the idea someone could, would or should deny me this very natural right on the basis of a single letter, I only suggest its possibility, en marge.

      I went on:

      "I am glad you did, sincerely. And... And I am not, I am afraid. For in the present situation, I fear I haven't understood (at least potentially) this something. Would you help me then to understand it?" And I could not help adding: "And would you like some tea?"

      We helped ourselves with some tea before doing so, or attempting to do so, with more substancial matters. And Alcibiade finally resumed:

      "Yes, the something. Well, it is, I am afraid, quite a simple one, so that I fear you should be disappointed but here we go:

      'It is impossible to say that somebody else is wrong.' "

      There was a short blank. For undoubtably, it was something to understand, if iwas to be understood, that is. Since it was so abruptly introduced, I inevitably failed and had to ask: "What exactly do you mean by this?" The minute I had spoken these words, I started to shiver at the prospect we may be starting to talk about something else, for obviously what he meant by 'it is impossible to say that somebody else is wrong' was that it was impossible to say that somebody else was wrong. But I was much relieved to have such a brilliant fellow as a friend when Alcibiade only repeated: "Only that it is impossible to say that somebody else is wrong." My discomfort remained however the same for I couldn't understand what he had there understood although I was quite willing to. Thus challenged, I proceeded the best way I could figure out at the very moment by asking:

      "So if I understand you well, you can't say I am wrong when I say that a cat has five legs. Puzzling, puzzling, this assertion of yours.

      "Of course when so questionned... Still I hold to what I say. Since for you a cat might have five legs."

      "You hold to... Yes, of course... For me... How could you know... And you may since... But do you claim that the fact that the cat has or has not five legs has any relationship with the truth or falsity of my alleging that it has five legs?"

      Alcibiade pondered a while and then answered:

      "It has, I suppose it has... But at the same time I can't say that it hasn't nor that it has, for you are asking me to relate an objective truth to your subjective one, the latter which I have no right to judge, essentially. That is precisely the core idea." Some jubilation was to be read once again upon his face.

      "I see, I see, I lied as everything had become ever more obscure to me."

      I was then very near a flat giving up (or upgiving) of my attempt of an understanding of Alcibiade's verity when I was in my turn striken by it and could not help the exclamation:

      "Hell, you are absolutely right!" He frowned, I noticed, but I could not stop at that now; "You are absolutely right. And I can prove it:

      You claim: 'It is impossible to say somebody else is wrong.
      I say : 'Yes, you are right and here is the proof:
      I say: 'the cat has five legs and that proves your claim.'

      "Mmmm, he mmmmed. I am not completely sure that it proves anything but... I can't really say the contrary either... Never the less... Although... For... I did not really... But at the same time...

      Well, I suppose you are right. It has to be a proof... Of some sort if not of another."

      So I went on: "Although I wonder if you have realised to which extent you are right.

      "What do you mean, he could not help asking?"

      "Well, in my opinion your assertion is bearing fruits far beyond the simple acceptance of it. If you allow me I might dare myself in some further reasonning in the manner of mathematicians deriving new knoledge from original truth and careful proceedings. Of course, if you should protest that it is yours to..."

      "Please do, on the contrary, I need to see farther... And I'm curious to see where it leeds..." His voice almost fainted there.

      "Let me recall the original assertion:
      'It is impossible to say that somebody else is wrong.' (A1)
      Let us imagine that someone (named, for instance, Een Enkelte) says:
      'It is wrong to say that it is impossible to say that somebody else is wrong.' (A2)

      Now since A1 is true, it is impossible for you to say that A2 is false or more precisely you can't say that the person we imagined is wrong to say A2. So A2 has to be true as well, somehow. And here is the infinite truth of your assertion: that the contrary holds as well and that it is precisely what it implies or, more precisely, that the original assertion (A1) have you to agree with the one (in the example named by chance Een Enkelte) who claims that the assertion is wrong. That is quite something that you have discovered here, this (alternatively: This with the same restrictions as earlier...) is indisputable. It has to be some sort of absolute. Even some absolute of a very peculiar species: some absolute to the second power for whether you try and dispute it or its contrary you fail on the fact that both holds at the same moment."

      Awestruck, I could only conclude: "You can't be wrong"

      And thus had been given birth to Alcibiade's verity.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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