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Rated: E · Article · Philosophy · #1396822
Should you be arguing so vehemently?
There was a time when I used to be very argumentative. I used to argue on almost anything and with almost anyone. But in my youthful enthusiasm, I sometimes used to cross the limit of decency and used to argue so vehemently that I ran the risk of earning other’s disfavor. Today I feel sad to accept that this habit of mine led to the death of a wonderful relationship I shared with a person. But I always thought that I needed to vehemently argue my point of view because I was correct. I was confident that I was correct. I never realized the fallacy of my outlook.

Until, one day, I read an essay by Bertrand Russell, a brilliant thinker who has inspired me in more ways than one. In that essay of his, I came across a powerful idea. Generally I do not accept any new idea unless it passes the test of my own logic and experience.  It’s been almost five years since I have come across that idea. And I am glad that this particular idea has proven to be effective and true on numerous occasions since then.

Thanks to this particular idea, my previous belief about argument is shattered. It has made my life much simpler and more comprehensible. Let me now explain what this idea is all about.

The core idea is this: as a rule, the more you try to defend your point of view the more you believe, deep within yourself, that your logic is not good enough. What would you tell a person who says that four plus four is nine and not eight? You would probably feel pity for him and think that the poor fellow hasn't learnt mathematics properly. You will not start arguing with him about why four plus four is eight and not nine. I wish everything in life was so quantifiable and accurately measurable like mathematics! But unfortunately, most of the times in life, we don't deal with mathematics but a whole lot of ambiguities. And this is the genesis of most of human conflict throughout ages.

Logic says that anything that is strong enough can defend itself. If that is the case then why do we always try to defend our point of view and still maintain that our point of view is quite strong and logically solid? If it was so strong why would it need our support? Can't it defend itself? Interestingly people who are most unsure of their point of view are the ones who make the most hue and cry. They don't listen to reason and logic because they know that their argument won't stand the test of logic and reasoning. They can only use rhetoric and divert the attention from the real issue by creating a lot of pseudo issues around the central issue.

This is the biggest tactic used by politicians to mobilize public opinion and to create propaganda. The reason why most of the heated arguments happen in the realm of religion and politics is that in both religion and politics no side is absolutely correct. Both of these are not like mathematical equations that can be universally proved. Both of them deal with the maximum ambiguities and hence, the maximum arguments. Everyone thinks that his or her ideology is the correct one and argues vehemently in favor of that, little realizing the fact that if they have to defend their ideology, then that is proof of the fact that their ideology is inherently weak and cannot defend itself. Throughout history many people have been killed and wars have been waged because of religion and politics. Even today the whole world is suffering from religious and political extremism like never before.

So what is the lesson for us? Do not get yourself into an argument on religion or politics. Chances are, the argument will never end. One who is wise speaks less and lets the logical strength of his point of view do all the talking.
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