A “perfect argument” in an imperfect world?

I have been thinking a lot about intellectual dialogue and argument.  Mainly in the realm of meditation practice.  But I suppose it could extend to almost any area.  While I see that it is extremely valuable, I am also seeing another side of it.  When does intellectual dialogue, and the emphasis on the perfectly formed argument become exclusionary? Is there every really such a thing as perfect argument? Language is so tricky, especially on the blogosphere.  Everyone contributes bringing their own intention, motivations, education, life experience to the table.  But how easy is it to communicate these when it is distilled down to words on a screen?  Some might argue (for lack of a better word) that this is precisely why you must perfect the very specific language of your discussion.  I would say that perhaps these variables are exactly why that is NOT possible.  We all have filters through which we write and read.  We may think that we are capable of removing those filters.  I would suggest that we are perhaps capable of being aware of some of these filters, but not capable of removing them entirely, and certainly NOT capable of predicting what filters another may be using, or how they will be applying them.  So for me, it is not about the perfectly worded argument…but the participation and throwing around ideas and perspectives.  It is about the act of the argument/dialogue, not necessarily JUST the dialogue itself.  Otherwise the dialogue becomes so exclusionary that, even if you have a group with opposing viewpoints, certain segments of society that might have something valuable to contribute are weeded out of the group.  When and where does a philosophical argument intersect with real/daily life?  Must we exclude them from each other in order to make a perfect point?  We all want to figure these things out, or at least wrestle with intellectual ideas, but we all also have to wash our underwear.  And then where does the quirkiness of life find room?  And who are we perhaps leaving out of a discussion that may actually have a few answers?  Do we have to have a very specific level of education, and vocabulary, in order to be heard during a discussion?   If that is the case then there may be a huge population of human beings left on the side of the road, while we are busy “figuring things out for them.”  Personally I am not comfortable with that.  I don’t know all the answers but this is just something that has been on my mind. For what it is worth.

~ by April on May 23, 2012.

6 Responses to “A “perfect argument” in an imperfect world?”

  1. This a very existentialist post. Sarte, as I’m sure you know, wrestled with similar things, the in itself and the for itself.

    There’s also a good case to be made for intuition being accurate when logic doesn’t fully cope. And language is a construct of logic. Logic is a man-made form of thought, an aggressive form of thought, which easily bullies the intuitive mind, because logic can be tested. I’m not talking about the intuitive mind in the way that a mystic might see it, I referring to it as the kind of mind that picks things up through the senses, and gives an clear picture with too many processed elements to ascribe words quickly or fully. Historically speaking, even though we live in an age of crossed-wires, senses are designed to be accurate.

    I’m reminded of Hegel’s dialectic. He believed that there was probably no end to understanding, and that every move forward in thought was only a refinement, getting closer to the truth which would probably never be visible; even if you got there, you probably wouldn’t know it. His path of refinement was: thesis, the idea; antithesis, introducing an idea which disturbs or invalidates the original statement; synthesis, incorporating the new info; thesis, back to one new, refined idea…and on it goes without end.

    As Edward De Bono says: “you can always move on from right, but never back from better.”

    As for the filters, they are impossible to remove. De Bono also says: “In order to have a complete perception, you need to be in possession of 100% of all information at any given moment.” Which is not possible, so subjectivity is impervious in usual life, and maybe only attainable in science.

    Iris Murdoch says: “Language is a sick science which requires curing as we go.” She wrote a book, UNDER THE NET, which is about being under the net of language.

    But I agree, the dialogue is vital in itself. I think that even if a conclusion isn’t reached, info goes in which expands the network of the mind and much later you make a connection based on one small comment made years ago.

    Not exactly what you were saying, but there it is.

    Hope I haven’t sounded too smart-arse or preachy, I can sound like that. This is about the extent of my knowledge on the subject, and it’s probably far from useful.

    • That was absolutely great! I loved reading it. I think that you actually summed up beautifully a lot of what I was saying, and gave me quite a few things to consider and place in my arsenal. One thing that I have been considering lately, with regard to dialogue, is whether we are interested in transformational or transactional discussion. And do we perhaps think we are doing the former, but actually only engaged in the latter. Thanks for participating in a transformational chat (I think…may have to check myself on that. 🙂

      • My best guess is, for the searchers, of whom you seem to be one, it’ll always be both. It’s only those who’ve stopped looking for whom it can only be transactional. Anything which transforms, when discussion is involved, must have come from an exchange, which is a transaction.

      • There’s also the idea that by talking, you solidify your own thoughts, listening aside, which is also transactional.

  2. Language…it’s a tricky business isn’t it? Thanks for attempting it with me.

  3. Rock on, sista girl.

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