The invention of language is one of the most ancient phenomena of mankind, yet one that has not only aged well but has even been the foundation stone for a vast assortment of things and processes that we could not imagine our everyday life without – prose, poetry, monologues, stories, disputes – any sort of communication. Language presents the opportunity to share different perceptions and views on the same matter, thus fuelling heated debates over any subjects ranging from utter nonsense to scientific discussions. Furthermore, the written form of language presents us with the opportunity to argue and speculate about the opinions of thinkers of the past. One can reflect on Descartes’ ideas or question Freud’s theories and the distance in time should not make it any less of a valuable argument.
Engaging in conversations with your friends and peers is extremely healthy as it stimulates the process of thought and the ability to form and gather one’s ideas in a constructive argument. However, these so-called disputes often end in even further disagreement and discourse, sometimes the participants are merely scratching the surface of the esteemed subject without having a clear insight and understanding of it, thus misleading others and generating illogical beliefs on various matters. This is because the topics of discussion are not exact or definite, as a matter of fact, nothing is, except that which can be proven and expressed via math. A hypothetical solution is having vast knowledge of everything that a person could potentially contemplate with friends. But absolute knowledge is non-existent. If the conversation partakers want to have a rational debate about something, some sort of grasp or insight is recommended if not even necessary to avoid useless bickering.
More causes that contribute to fruitless debates are, for example, lack of mutual understanding and respect. People often hear only the first few bits of the other person’s argument before starting to fabricate their own counter-arguments. This is not only disrespectful but also defies the point of having a dispute.
Another complication that I deem worthy of mentioning is the misinterpretation of definitions, for example, when talking about whether teaching math in school is good, the participants should mutually accept what is meant with ‘good’ beforehand. If settling on definitions and terms used in the discourse is neglected, it often leads to a situation where both (or more) partakers have come to logically valid conclusions that have been derived from their understandings of the word ‘good’, and because of this, they can’t come to an agreement.
I tend to believe that lack of knowledge and ignorance are natural and absolutely human, albeit looked down upon, however, stubbornness and unwillingness to accept other somewhat rational arguments truly irritate me. In my opinion, during a debate, the participants should try and put aside their biases and accept logically proven arguments and analyse their own before voicing them. If I note that a person won’t even listen to my points and relatively objective deconstruction of their arguments, I immediately quit the dispute.
After this critique, it is hard to see what one should take away from this. Should an ignorant person not argue? I believe that such person should educate himself in order to be able to discuss and express beliefs as these discourses provoke and encourage new discoveries, ideas, developments and such. It is important to mention that opinions should be excluded from this critique as they require no logical or rational base. It is hard to distinguish opinionated conversations from argumentative discussions. Often the former becomes the latter during the course of the dialogue.
There are many flaws and cons that can be highlighted when investigating this topic, but I believe that the beauty of a well-crafted argument and a mutually respectful debate, as well as the various benefits, defy the point of speculation at this time and at the current level of general intelligence.