Diaries Magazine

Arguing and Convincing

Posted on the 26 October 2020 by C. Suresh

 "You wrote a series on logical fallacies some time back, didn't you?"

"Hmmm...", I said, apprehensively. This sort of start to a conversation almost always boded ill for me. Now, what fault was this guy going to find with that series?

"You do know that most logical fallacies are used, mostly knowingly, in arguments between people, don't you?"

"Of course I do. So?"

"Tell me, what is the difference between arguing and convincing?"

Yuck! What do these guys think, I am some sort contestant in quiz contest? And, all of you must be familiar with the fact that if someone asks another person a question like this, it is NEVER to learn anything. It is, almost invariably, to prove that the other fellow is stupid. Which means that, whatever you say, the other guy is going to find a way to prove it wrong.

"Arguing is the process and convincing is the end result," I said.

"Yeah, right! How many arguments have you seen where either guy has been convinced that the other fellow is right?"

What did I tell you just now? There he goes, out to prove I was wrong.

"Well, I should say convincing is the desired end result of an argument."

"Really? You know, I think you are mixing up discussions and arguments. When you are discussing something, you are still trying to convince the other guy. The moment you stop discussing and start arguing with him...that's when you have given up on convincing him that you are right."

"Oh! Yeah? So then why would I continue to be talking about that subject at all?"

"Because you either want to establish that he is stupid...or that you are not. Or both. Especially when you have an audience. The only point in an argument between two people is one of these."

"Does that ever get established?" I said with a sneer.

"Of course both parties will not agree on that either. You only try to silence the other guy, which is all you can do by arguing. You can never convince him. And how handy all these logical fallacies are to silence people! Ad Hominem, False equivalence, Straw Man, you name it."

"Is it at all possible to convince people?"

"Not by calling them names, no. Not by trying to change ALL their ideas in one go, no, not even when those ideas are ALL wrong. You have to pick on one thing you want them to reconsider and work within THEIR view of the world to make them see the issue your way. If you try to impose YOUR view of the world in toto on them, depending on your arguing ability, you can only silence them. Never convince them."

"What if their view of the world is itself the problem? That it obviates the possibility of even entertaining the idea of change?"

"Well, then, do you think arguing is going to help convince them? Or only give you the pleasure of telling them off? You don't waste time with those, only the others who may differ with you on various issues but are still flexible enough to possibly change."

"So, you'd have me singing and dancing to other people's tunes..."

"Well, just make up your mind about what you want. Whether you only want to win arguments and feel superior or whether you want to bring about change."

Eeeks! I WANT neither. I just want to keep writing my blog without people jumping on me. Just give me peace, Lord!

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