Global Resilience Solutions > Winning Arguments and Seeking TRUTH in the Warrior’s World

Winning Arguments and Seeking TRUTH in the Warrior’s World

We’ve all seen formal debates at one time or another, two rigid ideological positions locked in mortal combat.  You know in advance that neither party will be persuaded by the other’s arguments.  You can also bet that supporters of each side will post video clips of their guy from the debate on YouTube to support the point of view they already agree with.  Anyone watching who’s undecided will be presented with two polarized extremes, because neither side will soften or modify their position because of something the other side said – that would be showing weakness.

Debate is many things – a hobby to many, a ritualized demarcation of ideologies, an exercise in rhetorical skills that are sadly no longer taught in any other form – but above all, it is an illustration of how difficult it is to change your opponent’s mind through  intellectual argument.

It is human nature to embrace the opinions of the majority of whatever groups you belong to, and naturally you will believe that they are rational – after all, you’ve heard and thought about more arguments for than against them.  True intellectual integrity is bought at the price of an open mind – allowing yourself to release your ideological lines in the sand and follow the argument even if you don’t like where it’s going, take it on its own merits and only then think of ways in which it may be flawed.

But even this is not enough.  The core values of humanity – integrity, compassion and so many others that are at the core of who we are – do not come from rational empiricism.  If fact, rational empirical logic, in and of itself, cannot yield values or imperatives of any kind.  It is the imperatives that we choose that condition our logic.  We’ve talked before about the logic of courage versus the logic of fear.  Both can be perfectly logical and self-consistent and yet yield diametrically opposed conclusions.  The logic of the Newtonian worldview and the logic of personal development are likewise incompatible.  Positivist/materialist points of view and spiritual philosophies are ultimately speaking two different languages, and thus find it difficult even to find meaningful grounds of debate.

And that is exactly why rational argument is not enough.  All authentic ancient traditions hold that their core value is the development of the human person.  The criterion, therefore, for any truth that they profess can be verified through its positive impact on the state of human life.  The authentic teachings of these traditions are not abstract things thought up by the rational mind, but are deeply and inextricably linked to the essence and the proper functioning of the human organism in relation to the rest of the universe.  The teachings are verified by experience.

That, in turn, gives us a leg up, because we know that to really reach someone does not mean to out-argue them.  It means changing the values and imperatives that they’re starting from, by demonstrating the alternative.  This means both living out that alternative, and demonstrating it in our approach to discussion.

 

Discussion is fundamentally different from debate in that it is not a contest (well, depending on your personality profile!).   It’s an exchange of ideas.  The exchange of ideas between open minds should give both parties something to think about.  Just because I am sure of my core values doesn’t mean that I’ve thought of everything, or that I can’t profit by taking in other points of view.  I reflect on what I hear, and, if warranted, modify my thinking accordingly.  This sounds so obvious, but the open mind is increasingly a lost art in our polarized society.  Above all, your ego should not be at stake in discussion.  It’s not possible to successfully make the case for philosophies advocating kindness while your ego is on the line.

 

When making your case, it is helpful to structure your arguments to reach not just the rational mind, but the inner person.  To do this, you have to realize the other person’s emotional investment in their own beliefs and programming.  That means going slowly.  First of all, give them only as much as they can digest.  Start them on a line of thinking now that you intend to fill in much later, so that their subconscious has time to chew on it.  Give them a reason to be curious, to want to learn more.  Once they start genuinely asking questions, they’ve let down part of their emotional defense mechanism.

To get past the rest, they have to get to the point of making the decision, “I will follow this line of thought even if it makes me uncomfortable or upsets my beliefs, so that I can objectively assess its value.”  From there, the next step is to approach the imperative or core value which is the real difference between your positions.  Even this can be done indirectly, through stories and examples.

 

Remember that people bring their own filters, emotional traumas, personal histories, social prejudices and personalities to bear on every argument, and what you are saying is not necessarily what they’re hearing.  In public relations and advertising, it’s proverbial that you should consult the people who know your audience the best.  You can actually recruit your audience by not trying to give them the full, comprehensive picture.  Answer their questions, but don’t take every opportunity to hammer your own point home.  Give them the pieces, but let them put the puzzle together.  Realizations that people come to on their own are more powerful than outside arguments, because the person knows how to express it to themselves.  In other words, you farm out some of the work of constructing your case to those to whom you are speaking (or writing).

 

These approaches to making a case are designed to give the other person the best chance of letting their own internal guidance system come into play.  Each person really does have within their own being the tools they need to measure the truth of any important position.  Truth is not an intellectual proposition, but a living thing, life itself, and we know truth because our health as beings depends on it.  Thus, these tools are intended to bypass the emotional baggage that normally drowns out that inner guidance system.

All of these approaches carry corresponding personal value for us.  By being willing to let down our own emotional guard and ideological preconceptions and take in points of view – the more diverse the better – that make us uncomfortable, we can use them to sharpen and adjust our own points of view.  One of the most valuable things you can do is to study history, because history teaches us the vastness of diversity in human points of view, values and imperatives.  “The unexamined life is not worth living,” Socrates said.  We owe it to ourselves as seekers of the truth to value the little bits of truth we can find almost anywhere, because what is true enhances our being and that of everyone around us.  We likewise owe it to ourselves to understand the traps that have led so many people, now and throughout history, to abandon truth, love, compassion, integrity and everything else that is at the core of human realization.

 

The truly open mind is a rare gift, and the mind of a seeker must always be open.  It is for that reason that so many seekers arrive at truths that cut across the grain of popular society.  They defy conventional science, conventional medicine, conventional psychology, and they make it work.  They transcend the political spectrum and countless other mechanisms that are used to divide and simplify society.  The seeker does not fear complexity, because he has an inner compass with which to navigate it.

So, in the end, the only path to complete inner integrity and self-knowledge (and the incomparable health and life benefits that come from that) is the path where you relinquish your emotional attachment to what you think you know and remain open to what is really true.  This extraordinarily uncomfortable place of UNKNOWING is something that all of us must pass through.  And it is then and only then that TRUTH can reveal itself to you.  And it will do so.  It cannot NOT reveal itself to you at that point, because universal law says it must.

Alas, very few people have a burning desire to discover TRUTH.  That burning desire is the only reliable mark of the true Warrior.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger 🙂

 

No comments
Add a comment

Categories