Sunday, 7 November 2010

Debates - Logic and Emotions...

Swami Gulagulaananda observed:
"An argument without emotions clouding is a right argument"

An argument arises when there is a topic of discussion, and there are two sides to it - Each side will want to prove that they are right. Arguments are some times conclusive - In which case, something can be concluded. For example, murder mysteries, court cases, etc. Others are where there is nothing to be concluded - An example would be where opinions are concerned - I might find something nice, you may not. Here, there is no right or wrong, but there are still two sides.

However, there is one thing that is important - An argument is not flawed as long as emotions don't play roles in it. A debate is perfectly executed as long as people are logical in their approach. However, very often, emotions start creeping in - After this, personalities start getting attacked. A simple example would be where one person targets the other person's weakness... "Yeah, but when you went begging back to her, where was all your dignity huh?" That is an uncalled for statement in correct arguments. The purpose of an argument is to judge correctness - Not to win.

Often, people attack the opponent by making insinuations and tangential statements - Hinting something obliquely. And emotions creeping in is not just by making statements. It also plays a very important role in your way of speaking. Just yesterday I was talking to some friend of mine, who was talking about the irritating way in which a friend of his responds to a case where the other guy is wrong - You can say "Hey, that's not right because..." OR you can make a really disgusted face, make a mocking voice, indicating that the mistake is not a commonplace one thereby hinting that the other person is a fool, and saying "Haa what the heck is this? This isn't the right answer" With the former, the one who has made a mistake will analyse why it could be wrong, and thinks about the possibilities. In the latter, the ego of the person gets hit - Thereafter, he doesn't really care much about the correct answer - Instead, he will try to prove his point - Either by saying he is right, or by attacking personalities and using swear words. This is a poor way to proceed.

Unfortunately, another thing that we see is talking without facts - We end up making blatant statements, which are often unsubstantiated. We have no idea if it is true, but in the heat of an argument, loose comments are made. Another fallacy would be one where the location of arguments is not fully studied. Arguments in public is one that should be avoided (unless you are invited by Times Now :P) because, again, you end up trying to safeguard your ego because a lot of people are watching you...

An appropriate way in which a debate should flow is one where points are made, points are disproved, opposing points are made, and so on... An argument in which emotions start playing roles, raising voices, using swear words, hitting below the belt is a failed argument. Unnecessary rise in temperatures is involved. Another mistake is - Assumption. Certain meanings are taken although they might not even have been remotely intended.

Then there is the second type - Opinions. Every person is entitled to opinions. Now, unless the opinion is based on a false premise, such as anything misconstrued, one can never disprove that, and arguing against this is baseless and incorrect. A simple example is - A person says that doing MS is pointless because of very high costs involved. This is his opinion. Then another person tells him that getting funding is possible that will enable him to do it smoothly. Then, his opinion changes. An opinion of this kind can be changed, because he didn't know certain facts earlier. However, if a person says that he doesn't like a certain song, it is an opinion that cannot be altered. You cannot convince him because there is nothing there to convince. If YOU on the other hand like a song, then good for you - However, trying to say that the song is good would be pointless, because the first person clearly disagrees. An argument of this kind should be avoided as it results in nought.

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