The Lost Art of Argumentation

An argument, in the classic sense of that word, is a discussion between two or more persons where one person makes a claim and another, or others, challenge that claim, each side offering points of reasoning or evidence (or “arguments”) to support their side of the question, as the other side offers points of reasoning or evidence to challenge the first and support their own.

A classic argument would look something like this:

Ignatius makes a claim.

Alphonsus challenges that claim.

Ignatius offers arguments that he believes support his claim.

Alphonsus points out what he regards as the weaknesses of Ignatius’ arguments and how, as such, he believes they fail to support Ignatius’ claim.

Ignatius counters by bolstering his claim with what he is convinced are even stronger arguments.

Alphonsus counters by pointing out what he regards as the weaknesses of these arguments, as well.

And so it would continue until one recognizes that the other has the stronger argument and concedes his claim. Or, the two agree to disagree, each recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of their own and the other’s arguments, but remaining convinced that their claim is stronger. The two depart amicably, looking forward to the next opportunity to respectfully and meaningfully debate another topic.

Having lost the art of argumentation, however, an argument among moderns often looks something like this:

Blake makes a claim.

Connor challenges that claim.

Blake offers arguments the he believes support his claim.

Connor points out what he regards as the weaknesses in Blake’s arguments and how, as such, he believes they fail to support Blake’s claim.

Blake gets angry and accuses Connor of 1) not listening, or 2) being entrenched in his ideology, or 3) being a sheep who is unduly influenced by the propaganda of fill in the blank, or 4) being mean, or 5) any combination of these. Blake then insists he has no time to bother with Connor and regrets having ever attempted to reason with Connor. The two never speak again.

Connor wonders what the hell just happened.

Alas!

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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