I have always had questions. One of my prominent memories of childhood is irritating my mum with several questions and forcing her to send me off to my room so she can think. Somehow, I didn’t manage to drop this habit as I grew and people remark at me that I ask an awful lot of questions. To this,I just shrug and tell them that’s how I am.
“Asking the question “why”, provokes a lot of reflection as I have found.”
Like so many of people in these post-modernist times, I have long since come to embrace this quirk that makes me who I am. Another quirk I found myself enjoying on a similar tangent is that I love a good long discourse on any one of our several contentious social issues and do enjoy listening to arm-chair experts just so long as the discourse from each or either party contains a solid structure and doesn’t stretch the realms of credibility.
Of course this view point must in most cases satisfy the criteria for determining something which is true, i.e. logical consistency (does what is being said add up), empirical adequacy (does what is being said jive with reality) and experiential relevance- what does all that is being said mean to you. (Sorry, the above was supposed to be a brief introduction meant to pique your interest and ease you into the subsequent and much more dense paragraphs but somehow my fingers and mind construed to turn it into a little insight into argument structures and instruction on the test for truth, hence the need for this drawn-out note. Ok now that’s cleared up, back to reading. Ahem!!)
You see the truth of the matter is that I feel that we really should encourage debate. (And I use this word with all the dignity and honour with which it was originally intended for and not the diluted, disgraceful representation we see and hear on our media which often takes the guise of a shouting match which only reveals who has bigger lungs and several fallacies.) I refer to well structured, logically coherent statements that agree with a conclusion and ultimately illustrate a view point perfectly.
My reason?? Well it’s kind of like writing on here. Debating, much like blogging forces you to think through what you do and say. Forces you to look at the various view points and the credibility of those viewpoints. It forces people to analyse their worldview and confront the inconsistencies that may exist therein. Forces people to expand within their worldview and assumptions. Forces them to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the world view that they claim to be presenting.
You learn to understand and spot logical fallacies (and man there are several of them). Fallacy of affirming the consequent, begging the question, denying the antecedent, equivocation, and on and on and on……
The ability to appreciate the power of words and learn the value of good communication. To realise that good communication is so much more than speaking good grammar or big, big English, or adopting an accent when speaking. It involves knowing the value of Tonation and intonation, gestures, facial expression, grasping emotional intelligence and how that inflects and guides your use of language. All these lessons that are necessary are absent from any syllable or curriculum. But further than this is the sense of satisfaction and dare I say pleasure to be had from it.
Sometimes, especially when you find the right mind with the requisite geometrical thinking, this is quite an enthralling experience to be part of. The way these minds produce facts, navigate the turbulent seas of such discourse, deflecting and dancing away from entrapping points. Like a chess match, sacrificing some obscure point just so that they can catch the opponent in a lie or an inconsistency. It’s curious to observe the way people wield and use words as tools. Some using it with the fine artistry of the painter’s brush or duellist’s sword, whereas for others, they use words crudely like a thug would a bludgeon or a blacksmith would a hammer. It’s interesting to see how people react to these styles of word use, and instructive in revealing who we are as people.
Again, it’s curious to see how people can make up criteria and metrics to form some kind of a basis to substantiate a point. Interesting to see how these metrics stand up to scrutiny and whether they stand up or fail to do so:
Say Kwame makes a blanket statement (most of these discourses begin with a generalisation) to which Kofi finds not to be true. He in turn questions Kwame as to what he means and how he came by that conclusion. This forces Kwame to explain his point of view and subjects his reasoning to scrutiny. Through this process, he is forced to expand his world view and get a better appreciation of what the topic or point of disagreement is through the contributions from Kofi and whoever may be present at the time as well as through the process of self-evaluation.
He will present a set of indicators/factors that are supposed to validate his stance and from thence proceed to defend the value of each of these metrics for making such a determination.
And thence you’ll find me on the fringes or in the forefront of a seemingly frivolous debate on a topic like who’s the best team, player, coach, president, the merits of a government, a policy, theory, best movie or novel, etc. I hope you join in on the fun.