Inquiry: an interdisciplinary journal of philosophy vol:41 issue:4 pages:411-434
According to Thomas Nagel we have a natural impulse to transcend our personal point of view. However, it appears to be difficult to give this notion of transcendence any real content while maintaining a connection with everyday speech and behaviour. In this essay I show that the description of what happens in a discussion when a speaker convinces a listener suggests an interesting interpretation of transcendence. The notion of `truth’ linked to the listener who is being convinced introduces a normative dimension in argumentation. This inescapable normative stance of the listener saddles her with the obligation to answer all credible objections against all arguments she has accepted. The evaluation of the arguments is not reserved for the participants of a discussion. Nothing more is required. For instance, the notion of a universal consensus has no place in the analysis of argumentation. If there is a universal dimension in argumentation and discussion, it is because there is no way of telling where convincing objections may come from.