Saturday, May 20, 2006

Strange person that I am

It seems to me when I debate with people there is almost always a significant difference between how I approach it and how they approach it.

1) The first way is used when I am primarily interested in exploring an interesting idea.
I suspend judgment and search for weaknesses in the other side’s argument - I may therefore argue for both sides in a single post much to the confusion of those who are dogmatic. This is extremely uncommon it seems with almost everyone else determining a clear position before they talk and arguing for it particularly in politics but also in philosophy and science.

2) Even when I do have a point for which I am arguing I tend to debate like water a flood washing out to the sea. I argue along multiple different lines at the same time searching for the one that will find resonance within the person with whom I am debating. When I hit the right sort of resistance or find a point of weakness I can focus on that.

Other people seem to debate in a straight line building towards a point often independent of their audience. I think the latter makes for good essays that are worthy of A's and articles which are good for publishing (and I can obviously do that too) but I prefer the former as a better way to ensure that you really engage the other person's argument.

3) The third difference is that I tend to assume a very high level of ability to interpret at first and break it down as time goes on. Ideally I look to met a person who can debate as wide a range of things as me as deeply as I can.

4) I also have a VERY broad range of things I like to talk about and I include evidence from all sorts of fields in my arguments unlike many people particularly philosophers. Most people try to draw debates to their own topics but to me it can float all over the place.

5) I have a great cynicism for my own position and my own interests. This sounds a bit strange but I think it is required to balance self interest.

6) Finally I am almost infinitely patient this allows me to perform the above and under an ideal situation come to a conclusion. I have almost never had a debate where the last post has been the other person making a point - since my attention span exceeds almost anyone's and I will follow their logic down almost any pathway and I don’t take much personally. People from ranting anarchists to Nazis to anti war activists have all left the thread to me after I have presented them with pages of references and arguments.


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