Monday, June 28, 2010

Wikipedia word of the day: Misology

Misology is defined as the fear or distrust of reason or logic. In that sense, it is the hatred of argument or debate or even speech. It is also defined sometimes as anti-intellectualism. A misologist would be an anti-intellectual.

In Plato’s Phaedo, Socrates comments on misology by comparing it with misanthropy.

Just like someone might love and trust all human beings but when deceived by one man can grow to dislike all humanity, so can someone who trusts in reason or logic grow to distrust it when he sees that it can be misused to support any stance.

A person who uses any opportunity to make a point, even if contradicts an earlier statement is called a sophist. A sophist is someone who will speak out both sides of their mouth whenever it is convenient.

In the text, Socrates warns Phaedo of the dangers of misology. According to Plato, the way to guard against misology is to select first arguments or theses wisely, after much research and study, so as not to be proved false later.

The word misologist was coined in 1870, and became popular through Benjamin Jowett's famous translation of Plato's Dialogues: "As there are misanthropists or haters of men, there are also misologists or haters of ideas." (Dr. William Long)

Kant, in Fundamental Principles of Moral Philosophy, wrote that "Misology is the hatred of reason."

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