Monday, June 17, 2024

Error and Controversy

 A direct controversy with error entails one disadvantage. By such a course the latter is unduly acknowledged for a positive power of evil. But in reality it only becomes so conditionally, through the atomistic splitting and diffusion of false ideas, and by the mass of its followers, when once every thing is resolved into elementary decomposition. Moreover, one extreme of exaggeration, whenever in controversy we enter into it and get involved in it, easily introduces its opposite, which then again is on its side carried too far or which even, though strictly and literally it be right enough, is yet asserted with too little of limitation, and applied with unsalutary rigor. It is, therefore, a lamentable mistake if men of great and deserving talents, who from a scientific point of view have devoted themselves to the great task of morally regenerating the age, have adopted a too decidedly polemical tendency. For it is partly through exclusively following such a course that their influence for good has been so narrow and limited, and has not met with a more general and more unqualified success.

[Friedrich Schlegel, Philosophy of Life, p. 314.]