So, what’s left to say about arguments and how to have them?
Well, a shitload more than I’m willing to post about here, at least for the present.
For this, the last post in this series, I am not going to write some long, dry summary of all the other posts. (Go ahead and thank whatever spiritual/ cosmic forces you deem appropriate). If you want to check out the whole series you can here: Putting the Civil Back in Civilization: Argument: an Introduction , Putting the Civil Back in Civilization: Argumentation for the Very Busy (part II) , Putting the Civil Back in Civilization: Argument – Pt III , and PCBC: Argumentation – Pt, what is it, 4? Yeah, sure, Pt. 4. Why not?…
That’s more than enough to keep you busy, and if you didn’t read the other parts of the series, you wouldn’t be interested in a synopsis here.
So, we’ll skip it.
(Cheer if you must. I’ll wait…)
If there is anything left for me to say on the subject, it might be one more reason to get a better understanding of logic and argument.
Human beings are emotionally driven animals.
We just are.
Anyone who tells you humans are rational actors is full of enough excrement to comfortably run an alternative fuels methane factory for the foreseeable future.
Don’t believe these people, and under no circumstances take as read any theory they propose that hinges upon humanity being rational actors.
(They’re either lying outright so that they can manipulate you, or they have so thoroughly snowed themselves into believing this offal they are dangerous to be around.)
Seriously, I’d take the time to lay out why I think that humanity isn’t rational, but you could just think of the people you’ve met in your life; were they always or even mostly rational in their decisions beforehand, or did they rationalize their actions after the fact?
The brain is good at that – coming up for believable reasons for why we did a thing. I think there’s even a special part of the gray squishy stuff that does it. Go look that up if you want to peer over the edge of the Free Will debate. That abyss is deep and tends to stare back.
So, I’m sticking with the assertion that human beings are not rational, but rather emotional creatures.
(Bonus points if you marked that statement as an unsupported assertion. I knew you were paying attention, you beautiful thing you.)
And, to say that we are emotional creatures is also emphatically not saying that we are solely emotional creatures.
We are not wholly any one thing.
We have the ability to reason.
It’s a tool, like math, only cooler.
Reason lets us step outside of our prejudices and biases. It lets us try to come nearer to the truth.
Argument allows us to articulate that truth, and to be persuaded to look at other truths we may not have been able to see. Or, at least, to see those truths in a different way.
If you have an instance where you need to be right, availing yourself of reason and argument will help you flense away the bits of thought that will make you wrong, especially if you have a good partner to argue with.
(Yeah, you can argue with yourself. Philosophy students have to do it all the time. But it’s a lot like sex: not nearly as much fun when you have to go solo.)
In the end, reason and argument help us to find the truth.
Or, as close as we can get to it.
That’s what it’s about, folks:
Finding the Truth.
Good luck on your search for truth.
As always, I’ll be around if you have any questions or comments.
Until next time…