The purpose of this paper is to experiment with a style of essay that you’ve probably never written before: The Dialectic. We’ll be testing Foucault’s idea about polemics in order to push ourselves to consider and explore multiple conflicting perspectives in a single paper.
The basic premise is that you will write a series of thesis, antithesis arguments - point and counterpoint paragraphs. You will first argue a side of a discussion and then take up the opposing side, eloquently crafting a rigorous response to your own ideas.
Your essay should explore the concepts we will be discussing in class, so if you’ve been doing the homework, you already have some arguments to work from. If you would like something more specific to work from, the Justice discussions and comments that your peers will be posting on course studio are a good start. In addition to this, you should also read through your notes from our class discussion about the predictions from the Constitutional Convention 1787. Can we make an argument that the poor indirectly sell their votes to the rich? Does the wealthiest class of America really dictate society? Do the poor impose upon the freedom and the property of the rich through voting? In what ways can private interests manipulate public opinions and widely held beliefs? Who is influencing whom? Who is responsible for the actions and behaviors of masses and of individuals?
This dialectic should not look like the typical childhood debate: “YES. NO. YES. NO.” You should not simply state a side and then write the inverse. Instead, you should invent the most compelling defense for both sides. Where students misstep here is in the unfortunate habit of writing weak counterpoints - something “stupid” that’s easy to rip apart. Right? We’ve all done this in essays that require counterpoints. Why that doesn’t work for this essay is that it would essentially mean that HALF of your essay is intentionally “stupid”... This doesn’t make for a good college paper. Instead, you must argue both sides so well that the reader cannot tell