Search for Truth

I had a great philosophy professor in college. I took Phil215 with him, Logic. His name was Dr. Greco. (”Was” because, sadly, he died last year. :’( Humanity lost a great mind that day.)

Dr. Greco was from Italy, and yet, he had a greater command of the English language than most Americans. He knew Latin and Greek and Italian as well. Whenever he brought up a new topic, he’d break it down etymologically. Since it was a Logic class, and a study of arguments, he defined the term by taking it back to its roots.

Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French arguer to accuse, reason & Latin arguere to demonstrate, prove; Middle French arguer, from Latin argutare to prate, frequentative of arguere; akin to Hittite arkuwai- to plead, respond

In other words, an argument is a search for the truth. It is an attempt to demonstrate that a conclusion is logically implied by a set of premises accepted by all the parties in the discussion.

Philosophically, an argument is not a fight, and “to argue” is not “to bicker.” When you get upset in an argument, you should admit that you’re not doing philosophy any longer. I strongly believe that nothing should be done halfway - if you’re going to bicker, go the full 9 yards and break out with the profanity. If you’re trying to actually prove a point, then let the truth speak for itself. If someone can’t be reached by the truth, then know that a proper argument is impossible.

An argument is a search for the truth. In any argument, there are always 2 winners or 2 losers. 2 winners if they reach the truth, and 2 losers if they do not. When someone is primarily focused on making sure that the other guy loses, then they destroy the argument and turn it into a bickering match. The only way to ensure that your opponent loses the argument is to lose it yourself.

It took me several years to really internalize this point, but I see it all around me. I am an outspoken individual who takes ideas seriously. As such, I frequently argue. However, honest arguing doesn’t offend anyone who is honest. My goal is not to stroke my ego by looking over a line of defeated foes. I don’t gain my self-esteem from broken opponents. I want people who honestly agree with the truth, because the truth is a strong ally to all rational individuals. The more people that know/believe the truth, the better a world this is for everyone. That’s why I argue: I have a selfish interest in other people being rational, so that they have more to offer me.

At the Objectivism Online Forum, the Volition discussion has taken a serious turn for the worse, thanks to a confrontational rationalist by the name of Jon KC. I’ve seen him before at other Objectivist forums. He was kindly asked to leave Objectivist Singles. He is the stereotypical sort of angry rationalist who gives Objectivists a bad name. He is out to make sure that the others in the argument lose.

One Response to “Search for Truth”

  1. On March 4th, 2004 at 09:03:48, TommyBlack Said:

    Wow. What’s wrong with people not being able to follow reasoning?

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