Are public languages (as opposed to esoteric, i.e., scholarly or disciplinary discourses) that coexist in a given state of society to be distinguished–beyond their diverging points of view, the clash of data retained or set aside, the disparity of their objectives as well as of the interests that fuel them–by their incompatible cognitive and argumentative characters? The author suggests that such breaksmay divide at a given point the topography of public opinion. For heuristic ends he outlines three degrees of argumentative breaks: (1) a weak form, in which the impression of insurmountable disagreement is superficial, the conflict between the individuals in question being attached to mannerisms of thinking and expression; (2) argumentative impasses that are linked to presuppositions and premises resolutely placed beyond any doubt; (3) finally,and most radically, certain ways of reasoning about the world, of finding connections and meaning in it, of perceiving a direction over the course of things, of posing oneself as a subject in society and history, and legitimizing this worldview, no longer differ only in their presuppositions,premises, and the basic axiology, but in the very rules defining the“arguable”–to the point that some of these ways of reasoning will appear, to those who remain “on the outside,” as unintelligible, unacceptable, and arising from a “crazy” type of logic.

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