Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Upside of Argument

How important is it to have a fight? Not a fist fight but a duel with words and ideas. It’s almost non-existent in some settings. Say for instance a classroom, what good is a teacher or a student, if they don’t engage in a healthy argument? In fact if there isn’t any argument, it’s either a sign of highly intelligent and efficient data transfer or highly moronic repulsion of ideas.

An argument leads to two direct outcomes, it triggers those parts of your body which secrete the infamous adrenalin & make you a little hyperventilated and excited about the words coming out of your mouth. Other than that, there is a direct stimulation of your left brain, which almost instantaneously tries to recollect and restructure information what you are about to say. There are so many levels of abstraction involved in the process of an argument that it stimulates almost every part of your brain that has anything to do with rational reasoning. There is also a simultaneous correlation of the thoughts being expressed with the thoughts being processed. So it’s a constant responsiveness to stimulus which your senses generate to keep you sane and have a healthy discussion (argument).

Does it mean that arguments lead to rational thinking? Not quite. Sometimes arguments can lead to pointless drivel; it’s especially true with deliberate arguments. When someone wants to play the devil’s advocate, they try to fight for sake of pissing you off. A positive aspect of arguing with a devil’s advocate is that he amuses you, he tries to piss you off but he rarely succeeds unless he has a really personal and deliberate interest in your humiliation. It’s wonderful to think the levels of thought the opposite party can reach to demean you.

So the argument remains, is argument really good? Apart from the physiological benefits, one more thing that arguments can teach us is to conduct ourselves while arguing. If we aren’t used to arguing, and suddenly might face a situation which demands heavy rational argument, we might spike our temper and end up on an abuse wagon and hurt the person and our reputation. Arguments help in collecting thoughts and expressing them in a precise way so as to create the intended impact.

A social aspect of argument can be that we suddenly become extremely alert about our surroundings. We know who is watching us, who is listening to us. We start thinking objectively about every word we speak and try to control our anxiety. Such a physical and mental training can hardly be constructed, not even deliberately. It’s just an impromptu performance, a dialog riding on the back of our rational chain of thoughts, a representation of collective neural activity.

Sometimes I die to have a bucketful of argument with someone, anyone. Although I can’t catch hold of unsuspecting people, so I resort to having a conflict with myself. Its fun to test my own morals and ideals and weigh them each separately and objectively, how often do we do that? I don’t need a mirror to talk to me, I don’t need to be worried about how I would feel after having the argument, its just a workout to continue the payment on my reality check.

Often arguing with myself, has led to amazing insights into my own mind. I sometimes wonder where that thought came from! It’s scary when you are left completely speechless by the clarity of your own thoughts or the conviction with which you think. It’s just like watching a good thriller, you keep on speculating in your head, about every possible outcome in the available problem space and then try and construct a rational model.

I can’t agree more to what Karl Popper said,

When I speak of reason or rationalism, all I mean is the conviction that we can learn through criticism of our mistakes and errors, especially through criticism by others, and eventually also through self-criticism.

1 comment:

Anusha said...

I love this one! I would have loved to argue but.... :(