Apr 12: How to be tedious in argument.

A dialogue today -- and it's supposed to be actually useful! Or so says the DRG:

12 The Perfect Argument
You would doubtless like to know how to hold your own in any argument. Read what Leslie Stephen declares the finest speci­men in our language of the conduct of argument.
One wants to turn on one's Homer Simpson voice: "Leslie Stephen says it, does he? Well, let's turn to the dialogue so that I may learn well how to conduct myself in your precious, precious argument." (Note that I don't know who Leslie Stephen is either.)

Doing so, we immediately we find lesson one -- hog the floor. This is about 5% of the opening speech:
Raise now your thoughts from this ball of earth to all those glorious luminaries that adorn the high arch of heaven. The motion and situation of the planets, are they not admirable for use and order? Were those (miscalled erratic) globes once known to stray, in their repeated journeys through the pathless void?
Poor Hylas -- he's the patsy in this dialogue -- the Beaker to Philonius's Bunsen:
Except that Philonius is way more patronizing, in his eighteenth-century way, than Bunsen Honeydew:
Phil. How often must I inculcate the same thing? You allow the things immediately perceived by sense to exist nowhere without the mind; but there is nothing perceived by sense which is not perceived immediately: therefore there is nothing sensible that exists without the mind. The Matter, therefore, which you still insist on is something intelligible, I suppose; something that may be discovered by reason, and not by sense.

Hyl. You are in the right.

Phil. Pray let me know what reasoning your belief of Matter is grounded on.

Nowadays, of course, we would expect Philonius to eventually get hit on the head with a hammer, which is probably why we're in accursed and fallen times -- no respect for authority, etc. But geez, all I can say is that Leslie Stephen must have been a tremendous bore at the dinner table.

As to the philosophical arguments, I cannot really say anything useful about them, because I am not A) a philosopher, or B) drunk. I have tries very hard during this project to read these things sympathetically, and get what I could out of them, but honestly this debate on whether things exist or just our perceptions of them do -- well, I'm with Dr. Johnson.

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