Why It’s Mostly About Winning Debates, Not Convincing

How many people assume that reason–rational consistency, which is conceptual consistency–really forms the substratum of what they believe? Well, all that is needed to answer this question, more or less, is a cursory look around at the litany of metaphysical assertions which almost categorically abound in human thinking…at least in the West, which is my frame of reference and likely yours, too:

The laws of physics govern (read, determine)…

Man is totally depraved in his nature…

Man needs a society rooted in the rule of law (read, man NEEDS governing)…

Space is real (the absence of a thing is itself a thing)…

And on and on.

I would put the number of people who interpret reality apart from one or another of these philosophical fundamentals at maybe 2%. Which means that 98% of the time that a truly rationally consistent person is engaged in a debate within the coliseum of ideas with another person it is a match, not a discussion. That is, the goal can only be to win, not recruit a fellow thinker. Because those who have not already, themselves, decided that there must be a plumb line of reason–pure conceptual consistency–cannot be convinced of their fallacy in a debate concerning issues which follow the root premise–that is, the metaphysical premise of how truth is defined which is either through pure reason, or in spite of it. And here’s the trick: EVERYTHING follows the root premise. Even discussions of the root premise must share a rationally consistent framework in order to result in one party being convinced of their intellectual error.

Now, all of this begs the question: how do you win?

The long answer is: you don’t. The short answer is that there is only one way to win, where it must be understood that it is “win” with a lower case “w”. And it involves simply making your opponent unable to continue the debate with any pretense of objectivity; and making this fact so glaringly obvious to even themselves that they have no choice but to abandon the issue and go and seek easier audiences for the acceptance of their ideas.

So how is this done? Simple. Find the nearest contradiction…I assure you one won’t be far. And then proceed to bind them with it. Because you see, it is at the place of contradiction where concepts no longer have any meaning. And where concepts have no meaning, words are irrelevant. And so contradiction is the place where it is no longer possible for them to say anything.  Which doesn’t mean they stop talking. It just means that they will stop saying anything, if you get what I mean.

And at that point, if they are sane, they will stop talking. And if they don’t, then you, if you are sane, will stop talking.

And then it’s over, and you have won.


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