Monday, May 06, 2019

Quote of the Day: Sartre on Argument and the Antisemite

This is a pretty famous quote, but it tends to get cut off. I wanted to include the entire paragraph:
The anti‐Semite has chosen hate because hate is a faith; at the outset he has chosen to devaluate words and reasons.  How entirely at ease he feels as a result. How futile and frivolous discussions about the rights of the Jew appear to him. He has placed himself on other ground from the beginning. If out of courtesy he consents for a moment to defend his point of view, he lends himself but does not give himself. He tries simply to project his intuitive certainty onto the plane of discourse. I mentioned awhile back some remarks by anti‐Semites, all of them absurd: "I hate Jews because they make servants insubordinate, because a Jewish furrier robbed me, etc." Never believe that anti‐Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti‐Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past. It is not that they are afraid of being convinced. They fear only to appear ridiculous or to prejudice by their embarrassment their hope of winning over some third person to their side.  
Jean-Paul Sartre, Anti-Semite and Jew: An Exploration of the Etiology of Hate (New York: Schoken 1995 [1948]), 19-20.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

This would apply to much of Trump's following.