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Dreg(OD)

Debate Philosophy

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You do need to be careful that your posts don't start carrying a tone of condescension, Ray. Some of your responses are becoming antagonistic, which makes it harder to keep this a friendly discussion.

 

I'm dividing my post into two parts this time (cuz I like dividing), one to touch on some of the conversations the topic has progressed into and one to back-track a bit to touch on a consideration related to the original points that I think is worthy of consideration.

 

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The Present

 

 


In your efforts to promote the need and values of open-mindedness, Dreg, you've steered this topic into a discussion about the fallibility of the perception of reality itself. (love Michael's videos by the way, he's awesome) While technically it's true, it's a pretty radical way of trying to explain why we should be open-minded, and a pretty complicated subject of conversation to tackle. In terms of driving home the point of "there's always a chance you could be wrong" then sure, that's certainly one way of pointing that out, but while it is a good habit to always question your own knowledge and information and put it through the ringer of scrutiny (which is what I feel you are really trying to emphasize here), at the same time it's difficult to be progressive if you're constantly doubting all available information as well.

 

What we do know: That reality exists in *some* form. (Or if you're going with the Matrix Defense, then the simulation you adopt as reality exists in some form, but either way we exist within a state of something)

 

In order to interpret something (correctly or incorrectly), there must be something to interpret. The question isn't about whether there exists a state of reality, but about how accurate the information our senses and interpretations of that reality are. (i.e. the phaneron vs the real world) We can be certain something is there but we can't be certain that what we see/feel/touch/know etc. is what that something actually is with an absolute certainty. You can't know with 100% certainty that aliens didn't alter your memories of what happened the day before, but you can know that reality existed in some state the day before (there are things that happened, even if you yourself don't know what they were)

 

Yeah, okay, I get it Terra, what's your point?

Certainty is an interesting word. At heart it is describing a state of mind rather than an absolute of any kind. To me, though, it is also marking a turning point in my assessment of information. We can't be absolutely 100% certain that our perception of reality is the true state of reality, but there are things we can do that support what we believe is the true state of reality which increases the probability that our interpretation is correct. Never to an absolute, but to greater and greater chances of probability.

For example, the state of matter (gas, liquid, solid) depends on how tightly compact atoms are together. That is what we believe is the case in true reality. And every observation or experiment intended to test that will increase the probability of that being the case for each situation in which the matter of the world around us behaves in the manner one would expect for such a conclusion. Heating it up changes it to a lighter state, applying pressure changes it to a heavier state, etc etc

 

Eventually the probability reaches a turning point where the chances of being wrong are so small that to believe otherwise would be reasonably regarded as absurd. This, to me, is the point of certainty. A conclusion derived from overwhelming support of information or experimentation becomes the statement of truth until such a day as new information suggests otherwise. Through this approach, the possibility that some conclusions could turn out to be wrong may not be erased completely, but a much greater number of conclusions would reflect the true state of reality, and the events that took place in that state of reality at certain times within it.

 

There is a truth out there. A true state of reality that we exist within, and a true state of events that took place within it. The objective truth. We may not know exactly whether a trail of information has stopped at the answer, or just at one more stepping stone on the journey to the true answer, but we shouldn't waver from following where the evidence leads us. Even if it doesn't end up being THE right answer, it will almost always be more of a right answer, and more accurate, than those from where the evidence does not lead.

 

 

 

Now just to be clear I certainly don't disagree with keeping an open mind, and being ready to consider the possibility that we are wrong. But I think it is equally important to maintain that we are right when we are confident that the empirical evidence available supports us. The perception of reality outlined by Michael in the video provided is better served as food for thought, and not adopted as an approach to life itself. If you keep maintaining it as the cornerstone of your discussion here then it'll become difficult to continue the discussion simply because if you erase the definition of "right" then in turn it becomes impossible to define who is "wrong".

 

That's a lot of typing that, in hindsight, doesn't *actually* add too much to our overall discussion, but I suppose it is a perspective worth reading and since I spent all this time writing it I don't really want to erase it and write something new, so hope you find it useful.

 

This next part will be more useful, I'm thinkin.

 
 

 

 

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The Past

 

This primarily revolves around your original reply to me.

 

On 8/28/2018 at 1:33 PM, Dreg(OD) said:

This seems to just be coming from a place of apathy though. It doesn't matter for what reason they didn't read, it doesn't make it any less a flawed position to take if you're going to engage in a debate. Why participate in a debate at all if you're not willing to put in the effort?

 

This statement really illustrated for me how different the environments of our debates are, and that in turn really brings up the realization of how circumstances surrounding a debate can actually affect the debate itself.

 

(quotes don't work so well in spoilers, so I'll add the spoil point here)

 

 

 


Upon reading your writ and your posts here, it is easily apparent that you (Dreg) engage in debate and discussion as a form of learning and a hobby. In fact, all of your suggestions, approaches, and responses are made with the expectation that these are the circumstances for the debate. And maybe that is what your write is intended to be focusing on, which is great if that's the case, but it doesn't really specify that. The impression I get is that it is intended to be a universal guide on debate and discussion in general. But there are some circumstances that can affect a debate in a way where some of your approaches don't end up being as effective.

 

Which brings us to the circumstances that *I* normally end up in debates through.

"Why participate in a debate at all if you're not willing to put in the effort?"

 

The answer is: If the conclusion of the debate changes something that affects you.

 

 

Overdosed is home to a lot of debates every year, most about Overdosed. Changes to the community take place through discussion (or it does nowadays, at least) and sometimes those changes are controversial, like when you think a rank should have more power, certain people should have more say, certain rules should be created or enforced, or a certain robot girl has a channel that seems so special that you can't help but feel so overwhelmingly jealous that the idea of doing nothing becomes irrepressible. (Definitely one of our most controversial)

 

It is easy to say "Learn through trial and error", or "remove them from the discussion if they don't observe the principle of charity" or "write them off as apathetic if they are too lazy to read the whole thing", and indeed you seem genuinely confused about the idea of someone being involved in a debate if they aren't there to discuss and learn, and therefore read all of what you have to say.

 

But people *will* get involved if they have something to lose. When a debate has stakes then things change. When other people are affected by the decision of the outcome then being wrong has consequences, and you can't always learn through trial and error. If you believe strongly that your position is right then you can't take the risk that those involved in deciding the outcome will find your explanation too long to read, or too hard to follow, or simply remove or ignore people in the discussion.

These differences in our circumstances really go a long ways towards explaining why I differed on the points of your writ compare to what you feel made sense. And I'm not suggesting that one approach is superior to the other, however if the goal is to truly become a master at debate and discussion, then you can't discount how circumstances can affect a debate either. You need to be proficient in driving home your points and positions in all situations and before all types of audiences, not just those who are most receptive to hearing you out.

 

And I know what you are thinking; "Why would you ever put anyone in a position to be part of decisions if they are too lazy to read through a full explanation, regardless of how long it is??". That is an excellent question, and I've no idea. But it happens all the time anyway. And not just in OD, but everywhere in the world. Businesses, organizations, governments. The reality is that debates involving stakes and changes are far more commonplace than debates held for learning or fun. And while a person can freely choose to avoid debates held for fun, sooner or later they won't be able to avoid being in a discussion whose conclusion will affect them or others.

 

So, yeah, that's a thing.

And as I mentioned before I think your willingness to engage in debates and learn from them is great, and speaks well of you as a person, and is something you should continue to do. But, if you'll forgive me for speaking a bit candidly here, although interacting with people of similar debating interests and engaging in discussions just for learning serves as a perfect environment for growth, at the same time I feel that it is also providing a bit of a safety net as well. When the only thing you have to lose is the argument itself then the need for preparation beforehand doesn't seem as prevalent, and the means to cut out those who don't take your discussion seriously seems a bit easier and obvious. But a debate with stakes will test you differently, both in how you approach winning, and more especially in how you handle losing.

 

Which, as it happens, OD serves as the perfect environment for learning. So if you are planning to scale the ranks of the Clan and become involved in community decisions, you'll get plenty of opportunities to practice and perfect your considerable debate skills. That I can certainly promise. =P
 

 

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7 hours ago, Terra said:

It is easy to say "Learn through trial and error", or "remove them from the discussion if they don't observe the principle of charity" or "write them off as apathetic if they are too lazy to read the whole thing"

 

I was the one who said the underlined part and it was in the context of philosophical debates.  Political debates are a completely different beast.  I don't ever expect the principle of charity to be observed in a political debate.  After all, most of the people who participate in such discussions probably don't even know what that principle is.

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@Terra
I feel like a lot of that was aimed at what Altros said.

We seem to be on the same page as far as "removing plebeians from the debate" goes.

I don't mean to go all moral grandstanding here, but I grew up dirt poor lowest class as a child and young adult. I had a father that lectured me non-stop about humility and the arrogance of others. Always pointing to others and saying things along the lines of "Don't be like that person, be better than that. They're cocky and arrogant and that's not good".

It has made such an impression on me, that arrogance, in any form or to any degree, really triggers me. There are few things in this world that trigger my hatred as much as the pompous, condescending, and arrogant.

That said, the idea that it's okay to discriminate the input of others in discussion because they're "plebeians" does not go over so well with me. It's a stance of arrogance and I refuse to accept it as a legitimate position.

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I know the principle of charity part was Altros, but I wanted to add it in there as well because it is also one of the things most affected by the circumstances of a debate. Maybe I'm going too heavy on the broader scope of debates, though. As Altros mentioned, if this is about philosophical debates specifically then most of what I mentioned in my previous post isn't really a factor or a concern.

 

Switching gears then, I can certainly understand being triggered by arrogance. I have a similar pet peeve when it comes to ignorance, I can't stand people who comment, critique, or denounce on something without making any effort to understand that something. But the use of the word "plebeians" in this conversation is a bit misleading, since that term refers to social standing when the disagreement between you and Ray (or this part of it anyway) was about people who aren't willing or capable of contributing much to the conversation. And it may seem like I'm splitting hairs here but disregarding someone because of their social standing is discriminatory, and a person who does that is much worse than someone who is disregarding someone simply because they feel they aren't contributing anything useful. We wouldn't want people to get the wrong idea about Ray, now would we? (Proceeding under the assumption that there can be a "right" idea about Ray, some days I have my doubts. -_-)

 

 

But let's go over what happened just the same. I don't want to exasperate the disagreement between the two of you by putting a spotlight on it, but your differences do bring up a good opportunity to compare different perspectives, which I think is worth looking into.

 

The Contenders

- You take a very optimistic approach to discussion. You believe in being very open-minded, in finding value in all conversations, in embracing a willingness to accept being wrong as a learning process. In your mind it is the practice of acceptance, spirited cooperation, and represents the minimal degree of humbleness that every person should strive for. You go into a conversation considering all possible points, positions, and reasons, relative to the available information, and carefully weigh how each affects or alters your own.

 

- Ray takes a very pragmatic approach to discussion. He believes in affirming the clear points of the discussion and working towards the definitive conclusion. Entertaining the input of those who disregard objective information or who contribute nothing towards progressing the conversation will only hamper the process of coming to that definitive and real conclusion. In his mind the priority is determining the truth, the answer, and puts the weight more on determining the answer through facts and information over hearing out the inane opinions of everyone present. He goes into a conversation assessing a situation with the available information and works towards a decisive and solid answer based on that information. When the problem is apparent then the solution is clear.

 

The Perspectives

To you, Ray seems like he's refusing to accept the possibility that he's wrong and in believing he can be unquestionably right he is being arrogant and closed-minded.

To Ray, you seem like you are refusing to accept the obvious, and are being indecisive when the facts should make the conclusion apparent and indisputable.

 

To you, Ray seems like he is looking down on people because he isn't willing to acknowledge that all opinions and perspectives have value and the potential for insight, however slight

To Ray, you seem like you are expecting him to digress from the purpose of the debate by entertaining the opinions of people who have nothing of value to provide, which can derail or drag on a conversation and frustrate the people involved

 

To you, the objective truth is a representation of the answer we should always strive for but can never achieve in an absolute state because to be open-minded is to accept the possibility that we can always be wrong

To Ray, the objective truth is the natural conclusion of the available facts, the answer of which should always be apparent if one puts in the effort to find the facts and information that determine it

 

In the end your stubbornness to accept what seems obvious to him made Ray frustrated and act in a condescending manner, and that coupled with how Ray's approach seemed arrogant and demeaning to you made you decide he was too disrespectful to continue putting up with. And thus have we uncovered the cause behind every social problem in the history of mankind.

 

 

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I don't know whose approach is better, or if one actually is better. In reality both are probably well-suited to different situations, Ray's is a good approach to managing and maintaining a Division for the benefit of others, which one would expect of an Officer in our Clan. Yours is a good approach to learning and expanding your understanding of people for personal growth and independent benefits.

 

I will say, however, that the belief that all input could have value, regardless of the person, is a pretty healthy approach and one certainly worth encouraging others to follow. The world could always use more optimism, and humanity would certainly be a wiser race if more people adopted your methods. But as someone who has interacted with many many many stupid people in my time (Conversations with the Special People / Conversations with the Special People - Part 2) I can't honestly say I personally believe I can learn something from everyone.

 

But I have learned to identify and take insight when I see it. Not everyone is going to be polite when expressing their thoughts, but everyone does have a reason behind those thoughts. Ray is just a grumpy panda and is hardly a fair reflection of how many others can act, but whether they are disrespectful because they are bad at expressing their thoughts, frustrated with you, or just want to act like an ass someplace where their mom can't smack them for it, there is still a process that has led them to the beliefs that they have. And while the first impulse is to always shut out those who act uncivilized, there is often value in looking past their demeanor and focusing on understanding why people think the way they do, and react the way they do. Not everyone is going to be able to express themselves as well as we can, and knowing why a person does what they do is the key to understanding them.

 

To truly understand other perspectives, you can't just be good at understanding the points and thoughts that people say, but also those that they don't. You need the reasons behind the reasons.

(Booya! Nailed it!)

 

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I haven't been active in this conversation/debate, but I have been following the responses.  To me it all has value, but I particularly liked the well thought out response Terra just posted.  Two opposing views, both founded on their personal socialization within the familial unit have contributed to their individual responses.  I also take the all input has value approach to life.  Thanks to everybody who has provided insight and responses to this conversation.  It's been fun reading.

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I am panda hear me...EHEHEHEHEHEHHEHEH?

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I'm glad to hear my post left a positive impression on some.

In any case, it has been fun discussing the philosophy of discussion. It's been quite some time since I've been that engaged in a conversation just for the sake of exchanging thoughts. I apologize if any of my posts came across as a bit patronizing, I have a tendency to sometimes speak my mind a bit too plainly. I think everyone who participated contributed to the topic in their own way, and I have a high opinion of all of you.

 

And once again, your writ was a pleasure to read, Dreg, and I feel it was very well done. So thank you for sharing.

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