David Kolb

American philosopher

David Kolb (born 1939) is an American philosopher and the Charles A. Dana Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Bates College.



"The Power of the Sophist" (1990)

In Postmodern Sphistications: Philosophy, Architecture, and Tradition. Chicago: University of Chicago press. pp. 25 – 36
  • We are horrified by the fantasy of a subtle use of violence that could change us without our knowing it. This would be the ultimate weapon of offense or defense. But whether this pure power appears in its positive role as The Method for finding truth, or in its negative role as the Sophistic power of persuasion, the same mistake occurs.
  • Today we have techniques of manipulation on a scale that would have done Callicles proud. They are not playful transgressions; we do well to fear the link between such power and what passes for knowledge. If there is only persuasion, Plato warns us, there is no discourse except the confrontation of power and propaganda. If we cannot draw the line, he says, all means of persuasion will be acceptable. Violence may be done to us, in crude or subtle ways and we will not be able to stop it. Even worse, we may not be aware of it.
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