Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Scholarly Dogmatism: A Rhetorical History, 1800-2000

This project traces how, why, and under what circumstances scholars invoked the trope of “dogmatism,” especially in controversies. Relevant controversies from various fields, periods, and countries will be subjected to in-depth rhetorical analysis.

Duration
2019  -   2023
Contact
Alexander Stöger
Funding
NWO Vici NWO Vici

Although the history of dogmatism is usually framed in epistemological terms, as ranging from Glanvill’s criticism of Hobbes to Locke, Hume, and Kant, the history of dogmatism as “a weapon of offence” (as F. R. Leavis once put it) can also be written from a rhetorical point of view, with particular attention to the historical connotations invoked by the term.

Why was dogmatism so often presented as a “relapse” (Rückfall) into pre-critical thinking? Was dogmatism, notwithstanding Thomas Kuhn’s attempt at rehabilitation, an effective charge mainly because it relegated opponents to a superseded stage in the development of science? And why was dogmatism often associated with phrases such as Glanvill’s “vanity of dogmatizing,” Kant’s “dogmatic slumber,” and Huxley’s “history records that whenever science and dogmatism have been fairly opposed, the latter has been forced to retire from the lists, bleeding and crushed”?

This project traces how, why, and under what circumstances scholars invoked the trope of “dogmatism,” especially in controversies. Relevant controversies from various fields, periods, and countries will be subjected to in-depth rhetorical analysis.

Connection with other research

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