Jens Oliver Meiert

Destroying Is Not Arguing, or: Why It Would Be Bad If Jesus Was Here

Post from September 20, 2017, filed under and .

Arguing is something we have to learn. I observed this again in recent years when I started studying philosophy and went through courses for logic and argumentation theory. These courses have not made my own arguments all valid, sound, flawless, but—they made me realize that arguing is something we have to learn.

They also led me to look at common discussion culture a little differently. On YouTube, for example, on Transfermarkt, indeed, in blogs. One doesn’t need any courses to tell that in some fora, there’s no argumentation, no discourse, often not even a conversation. It’s more like everyone decided to yell at the same time. Verbal noise.

Feed us.

Figure: Gutmenschen.

In some threads, the discussion culture is so terrible that all that’s being done is destroying. This song is sh_t, that player deserves to be kicked out of the club, this coding technique is from the 1700’s, the other commenter is a moron, who says something critical is a hater, and anyway, whoever reads this is stupid.

This is not arguing. It is: destroying.

Now the curious thing about this, then, is not the questionable approach. Even if we disagree, why wouldn’t we take the time to understand the other party; to take it that we could make a mistake; to still disagree respectfully?

No, the curious thing is that we can always destroy.

We can always destroy.

Even if Jesus came into the door right now, there would be people saying, “what are you doing here, don’t have you more important things to do, people are dying in Africa, Trump is still out there, and in the oceans, there are still microplastics everywhere.”

And they would have a point.

One can always make a point, and that may be easiest by being destructive.

But does that have value?

It may have insofar one argues that emotional abuse is useful to harden people.

But it may not have otherwise, because even if one makes a point, it’s not saying anything. Anyone can make a destructive point. As such, destroying is neither a sign of character nor of great intelligence.

What may be of more character and of more intelligence, and my point here is not to present a bulletproof argument but to merely raise awareness for conversation, is to try to understand the other side; to be respectful; to perhaps not attack (destroy) the other view but present (create) one’s own view; and if none of these is within one’s reach: to remain silent.

About the Author

Jens Oliver Meiert, photo of July 27, 2015.

Jens Oliver Meiert is an author, developer (O’Reilly, W3C, ex-Google), and philosopher. He experiments with art and adventure. Here on meiert.com he shares and generalizes and exaggerates some of his thoughts and experiences.

There’s more Jens in the archives and at Goodreads. If you have any questions or concerns (or recommendations) about what he writes, leave a comment or a message.

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“The end does not justify the means.”