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The Discussion as Joust: Parrhesia and Friendly Antagonism in Plutarch and Montaigne

The Discussion as Joust: Parrhesia and Friendly Antagonism in Plutarch and Montaigne Sco TT f ra Nci S e Th Discussion as Joust Parrhesia and Friendly Antagonism in Plutarch and Montaigne No single word in the English language fully ree fl cts the polysemy of the Greek term agōn, which denotes the entire gamut of struggles from combat to athletic contests. Antagonism, then, is den fi ed less by the origin or the nature of its con- i fl ct than by the mutual resistance implied by its etymology and its prefix. The term “antagonistic” may thus be used to describe opposition not only between enemies, but between friends. It is just such a friendly antagonism that Michel de Montaigne (1533–12) 95 describes in the eighth chapter of Book r Th ee of his Essays, “Of the art of discussion” (“De l’art de conferer”), proposing a markedly agonistic conception of discussion as a heated and even violent struggle between two parties (Pesty 119). i Th s chapter and the vigorous, yet well- intentioned and introspective give- and- take it prescribes have typically been regarded as a rejection of scholastic disputa- tion and as a model for conversation in the classical era in keeping with Pascal’s de- scription of Montaigne in “De http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

The Discussion as Joust: Parrhesia and Friendly Antagonism in Plutarch and Montaigne

The Comparatist , Volume 37 – May 12, 2013

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887

Abstract

Sco TT f ra Nci S e Th Discussion as Joust Parrhesia and Friendly Antagonism in Plutarch and Montaigne No single word in the English language fully ree fl cts the polysemy of the Greek term agōn, which denotes the entire gamut of struggles from combat to athletic contests. Antagonism, then, is den fi ed less by the origin or the nature of its con- i fl ct than by the mutual resistance implied by its etymology and its prefix. The term “antagonistic” may thus be used to describe opposition not only between enemies, but between friends. It is just such a friendly antagonism that Michel de Montaigne (1533–12) 95 describes in the eighth chapter of Book r Th ee of his Essays, “Of the art of discussion” (“De l’art de conferer”), proposing a markedly agonistic conception of discussion as a heated and even violent struggle between two parties (Pesty 119). i Th s chapter and the vigorous, yet well- intentioned and introspective give- and- take it prescribes have typically been regarded as a rejection of scholastic disputa- tion and as a model for conversation in the classical era in keeping with Pascal’s de- scription of Montaigne in “De

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: May 12, 2013

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