euphuia. But they belong, as Aristotle often says at such tantalizing junctures, to another inquiry.


12. CONCLUSION

A brief backward look is perhaps in order. Plain dialectic is indeed a kind of intellectual training that enables someone to argue effectively on both sides of an issue. Honest dialectic is more than that, however. It is not 'a bygone mode of thought', but the very method of Aristotelian philosophy itself. It provides a philosopher with a way of defending his views against the predations of sophists, sceptics, and other critics. But it also has a constructive role to play, enabling him to do the preliminary cost-benefit analysis that precedes his determination of where the truth lies. There is good reason to think, though, that any particular type of dialectical argument is especially suited to the latter task. It will all depend on what problem is in view.

No one will doubt that training in dialectic, as I have characterized it here, is likely to prove as useful to a philosopher today as to an ancient Greek one. In a sense, and at some level, we can surely recognize dialectic as being a part of what we ourselves as philosophers practice. But we are also bound to be somewhat disturbed by the appearance of euphuia as a needed philosophical correlative to dialectic. One way to express this worry is as follows. Aristotle thinks that the goal of our lives--eudaimonia, or happiness--is fixed by our natures,26 and that it is by reference to this fixed goal that a philosopher possessed of euphuia selects true views from the array of possibilities which dialectic makes available. If we are doubtful about the existence of such naturally fixed goals, or doubtful about their relevance to (all or most) of the problems of philosophy, we are likely to detect a potential arbitrariness where Aristotle sees fixity and determinateness. On Aristotle's view, once dialectic provides the array of possibilities, 'it only remains to make a correct choice of one of them'. Minus his standard of correctness, we might think that what remains is not correct choice, but simply choice. Perhaps there are many equally defensible, equally attractive options, rather than one. Perhaps, 'once the menu of well-worked-out theories is before us, philosophy is a matter of opinion'.27 This would not be a congenial outcome for Aristotelian philosophy, of course; but Aristotelian dialectic might be able to accommodate it.28

____________________
26
See Reeve, Practices of Reason, 79-84.
27
D. Lewis, Philosophical Papers, i ( Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), p. xi.
28
I am grateful to Jyl Gentzler for inviting me to write on Aristotle's dialectic for the present volume. The recent work of Robert Bolton provided a useful stimulus to new thought, not least when I disagreed with it most.

-252-

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