FROM ADDRESS TO DEBATE: GENERIC CONSIDERATIONS IN THE DEBATE BETWEEN SOUL AND BODY
Brent, J. Justin
Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Vol. 32, Issue 1, (2001)
Although many scholars think of debate as a distinctively medieval genre, just about every culture known to man has composed verbal contests of wit that might be termed debates. Their universal appeal results at least in part from two inherent features. One is the excitement and suspense that comes from observing a contest between two skillful opponents. Like spectator sports, verbal contests provide a vicarious pleasure for the audience, which shares the suspense of the contest with the two or more opponents. The second aspect, more frequently discussed by students of medieval debate, is the tendency towards opposition.
Because a contest cannot take place without opponents, verbal contests tend to produce philosophical perspectives that are both oppositional and extreme. The divergent viewpoints provide not only an entertaining showcase, but also a framework for organizing, recalling, and ultimately understanding the topic at hand.