from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- adj. Given to or characterized by disputatious, often specious argument.
- n. One given to or expert in dispute or argument.
- n. The art or practice of disputation and polemics.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- adj. Of something or someone provoking strife, controversy or discord.
- n. One who makes specious arguments; one who is is disputatious.
- n. A type of dialogue or argument where the participants do not have any reasonable goal. The aim is to argue for the sake of conflict, and often to see who can yell the loudest.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- adj. Controversial.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- Pertaining to disputation or controversy; controversial; disputatious; captious.
- n. One given to disputation; a controversialist.
- n. An art of logical criticism practised by the Megarics and other ancient philosophers. It has the appearance of mere captiousness and quibbling, but had a serious motive.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a person who disputes; who is good at or enjoys controversy
- adj. given to disputation for its own sake and often employing specious arguments
- n. the art of logical disputation (especially if specious)
Structurally defined, eristic is a zero-sum game, as is debating.
"eristic" -- into an argument for its own sake; or sinks into logomachy,
I said I was going to write about the use of the word "eristic," and the reason I wanted a whole separate post about the use of the word in the Mattathias Schwartz article discussed in the previous post is that I found this 1986 article — "I Am Lapidary But Not Eristic When I Use Big Words" — by William F. Buckley Jr.
If it was eristic to use "eristic," did Schwartz mean to offer word mavens a little inside joke, or — more amusingly — did he mean to send a secret signal to Buckley fans?
Instead, I will use the eristic technique of posing questions and “demanding” that my interlocutors answer them.
But do expect another burst of eristic libertarian-Republican spin.
Interestingly, this was one of the eristic methods used by the paid counterbloggers of the Radical Right during the 2004-2005 time frame.
That is the heart of the distinction between eristic and dialectic.
Debating is a form of eristic, thus a variety of sophistry.
The tragedy and scandal of American legal education is that it tutors idealistic law students to become sophistical, eristic war-makers through the study of appellate litigation for that small portion of matters that will bring them to court, instead of relying on a case method instructing them on how to reconcile opposing viewpoints and settle disputes without recourse to litigation.
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