Sarah,Well Said

Why Do The Heathen Rage?

I used to very much like internet message boards. I’ve spent countless hours, and quite a bit of money (back when unlimited internet hours were unheard of) debating every political, religious and philosophical issue known to man. I’m told that I’m quite good at it, and I know that it’s true.

But I have a problem. The problem is my ego. I know that I’m very good at arguing. I know that I can win an argument with just about anyone on just about any topic. And damned if I can’t do it from both sides of the fence, too. I’m a good arguer, a tremendous sophist, and not always a very good person.

One of the best things I ever learned in college philosophy class was how to be charitable in an argument. Until college, I had followed my familial school of argumentation: aim for the jugular and don’t let go until their corpse has stopped twitching. In college, I saw for the first time how winning the debate is not the same thing as winning hearts and minds. It’s definitely not the same as finding the truth.

I am so there with you, Sarah.

Having learned the hard way.

But there are still a few topics I think are worth the jugular …..
hate me if you must ppls

H/T: Muzikdude

9 thoughts on “Sarah,Well Said”

  1. Arguing is like a staring contest. No one really wins…one just gives up.

    In the words of Lord Frank Zappa:
    “People will only agree with you if they aleady agree with you…you won’t change anyone’s mind”

    This is the lesson I’ve learned the hard way.

    I’ve tried to persuade people only to find that they tired of hearing my voice. I interpreted that as victory.

    Even in formal debate, the winner is the side who makes the highest number of valid points but neither side changes their stance on the issues.

    Debate is great for showing both sides of a controversy and that’s about it. If someone goes into a debate with winning in mind, they’ve already lost.

  2. {{hi John}}
    My experience is a little different. I have argued people down to the ground, but then their point completely changed me after I did some research and thinking. All due to the debate.

    I think immediate change is not something expected, but I think that debate out there in the open does change people. That is the only reason I don’t completely stop. I am very solution/results oriented. If I was so cynical, I would quit.

    I think there is something such as a long range win, if you have hearts in mind. I don’t think that it involves only the arguments, but I think arguments are a way of plowing the ground for receptiveness to fruitful ideas.
    Of course you have to have something good to sow, and have a care for cultivating….

    Is preaching only for the choir? Are reasonings only for the agreed?

    So I respectfully differ:) but I like you and we are friends for all that, I hope.

  3. Have you ever read Paul Tillich?
    I have not, but I thought of a quote I came across a few years ago as I read this post and the one preceding. Seems he thought a lot about what he called “boundaries.” The thoughts intersect. I dug out an old notebook and will blog about that tonight.

  4. I look forward to your post.

    I only had the most cursory overview in a philosophy of religion class long time ago- which no longer counts ๐Ÿ™‚

    Most of what I read on boundaries now is Townsend.

  5. ilona,

    For the sake of discussion, I hear you about change but you are talking about yourself. I too can change if someone proves me to be wrong. Then there is the majority of people I’ve debated against. They are not so likely to change because they argue rather than debate and are driven by ego. They rarely do any research beyond the fact finding on which they’ve formed their opinions.

    I know I’m being cynical but that’s what I’ve seen from people. It seems like if anyone is going to change…it’s going to be me.

    Maybe it’s because I refuse to debate the things about which I am truly passionate. I used to debate those things and couldn’t keep my emotions on a leash.

    That’s why I made the comment about debates being different from fights.

  6. I like this quote from Blaise Pascal :

    “We arrive at the truth, not by the reason only, but also by the heart.”

    You’ve been tagged, by the way. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. John, I chose myself because that is the easiest to prove ๐Ÿ™‚ My thinking is this way: I can extrapolate it out to others since people essentially work the same, and if I can change a view from discussion, then others can. I don’t know the all of how that happens since we are talking about the heart. Some change some don’t- but you don’t know which are which, so you have to be ready with an answer for all comers.

    so I guess sozo’s comment is most a propos. It is with the heart also. So I think it does matter *how* we argue. and thus your “debates being different from fights” is a point well taken.

    You are a child of God so you can keep things on a leash- it is the fruit of self-control, but it takes cultivation- I admit my own fruit is pretty puny. But it can be done.just saying.

    When people do little research they are all the more dependent on someone helping them to know the facts, if the subject is an important one.

    You see I am sold on the idea of discussion, even when it gets sharp.

    by way of anecdotal evidence, I have a sister who is the hardest nut to crack in an argument. I mean she’s awful;) -but one time she said to me that I influeneced her in some of our debates because I would not back down and she could see that there was firmness in my convictions. It changed her, but I would not have known had she not said that. I was sure she was the d_rndest most argumentative and obdurate person on the earth.

    Some people are like that-you can’t tell from the outside. You can’t let the reaction sway you if you are right.

    For those who are never sure, I can’t help them. that is an internal thing.
    I do go back and forth in certain circumstances wondering whether it is worth the time and effort.

  8. I enjoyed the “go-for-the-jugular” bit very much. You find a lot of quality, Ilona.

    I’m surprised to find myself disagreeing with Muzik. I believe public debate done in a certain style is very transformative. It has to incorporate respect for others. The assumptive close in sales will always be a very strong one; the assumptive participation in a debate will change the nature of the debate itself.

    If you assume that the person you are debating with is intelligent, moral, objective, fair and interested in the underlying issues, and if you always respond to their best points, and treat them as if they have a valid voice, in the end they will almost always wind up being more intelligent, somewhat moral, objective and more fair. Most people are capable of being decent and most people would prefer to be.

    We should seek to see and reflect the best in each other, and not the worst. People almost always wind up shifting their behavior in accordance with your expectations of them. If you assume they have good motives and want to debate meaningfully sooner or later almost everyone will settle down to a meaningful discussion and talk about what they really think and worry about. Once one gets down to the basics we can compromise.

  9. I love the way you think.

    I appreciate Muziks honesty- we are all foils for one another ๐Ÿ™‚

    tr.v. foiled, foilร‚ยทing, foils

    1. To cover or back with foil.
    –>2. To set off by contrast.

    I going to do a highlight post on this….

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