Tuesday, November 27, 2012

An ingredient of good dialogue with opponents

One thing that I notice when a conversation with an opponent has been good is how much time we spent simply describing and explicating our views. When I am not thinking about persuading the person to think as I do, but am trying to give that person a sense of how and why I think as I do, and my opponent does the same, I find discussion is often very satisfying. With a lot of discussions I have been seeing between believer and unbeliever, I think this is being lost, and I find this most regrettable.

24 comments:

Daniel Anderson said...

Agree on all points!

Ilíon said...

Whatever the purity of one's own intentions, one can have such a discussion only when the other party is likewise seeking to learn and understand.

How often, seriously, does one find an 'atheist' -- or a "liberal" -- who seeks to understand what he will not believe?

im-skeptical said...

I feel that I have benefited greatly from the discussions in this group, and I appreciate the opportunity to participate in them. I realize that some may feel exasperated with me at times, and I feel the same, but nevertheless, I have learned quite a lot. I only hope that I am able to help someone understand a little more about my way of thinking, too.

Victor, if you feel that my presence here degrades the level of discussion, just say so, and I will refrain from commenting.

Daniel Anderson said...

im-skeptical

I wouldn't say, from my experience with you, that you are one of the problematic ones on here.

BenYachov said...

im-skeptical

Even if others(including myself) have lost patience with you at times I for one have also noticed you at least try.

You seem to genuinely want to learn rather then merely "win" an argument. Even if you don't ultimately get it or even if you do you don't agree with it.

I find that refreshing and it gives me some hope for the state world.

I say that as the guy who has little tolerance for Gnus these days.

Well I hope you continue to read.

I would hope you become a Theist & a Catholic. If not I would settle for a rational philosophical Atheist.

I would hope for your salvation regardless.

(BTW That hope extends to you Gnus here. You know your names whom I have told to fuck off).

Dan Gillson said...

Part of the problem, I think, is that unbelievers come here to try to 'convert' Christians to atheism. (Papalinton comes immediately to mind.) I also think that Ilíon's comment reflects part of the problem, viz., that it is they who have something to learn from us; that we know so much more about science, philosophy, etc., than they do; that they are unequivocally wrong about everything, and we are absolutely right. It's silliness.

Syllabus said...

realize that some may feel exasperated with me at times, and I feel the same, but nevertheless, I have learned quite a lot. I only hope that I am able to help someone understand a little more about my way of thinking, too.

You certainly have been a most informative and enjoyable dialogue partner. I commend your commitment to civility and conversation.

Crude said...

Dan,

I also think that Ilíon's comment reflects part of the problem, viz., that it is they who have something to learn from us; that we know so much more about science, philosophy, etc., than they do; that they are unequivocally wrong about everything, and we are absolutely right. It's silliness.

Well, sometimes that's actually the case. When someone argues that (say) Aquinas' First Way is about the temporal beginning of the universe / the Big Bang, yes, that person is unequivocally wrong. I know you've got greater points than this in mind, but hey, I've had people say 'let's agree to disagree' about things like that.

I also think Ilion's point was fairer than that. A prerequisite for a constructive dialogue is at least a willingness to understand what someone else is trying to say - not merely make it look bad or shoot it down at all costs. Another prerequisite is sincere mutual respect. The problem is that the Cult of Gnu expressly rules out both standards.

Yes, some Christians have the same flaw, but I've got to say, it's a defining trait of the Gnus.

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

Sure, sometimes people can be just plain ol' wrong. That happens. However, I singled out Ilíon's comment because I was trying to capture the attitude that I saw in it, viz., this idea that some people can never be right. I presume that Ilíon doesn't actually believe that, but regardless, I thought his comment helped illustrate a point I was trying to make.

Crude said...

Dan,

However, I singled out Ilíon's comment because I was trying to capture the attitude that I saw in it, viz., this idea that some people can never be right. I presume that Ilíon doesn't actually believe that, but regardless, I thought his comment helped illustrate a point I was trying to make.

Nah, it did. Forgive me, I tend to hair split on these kinds of things. Bad habit, hard to shake.

Dan Gillson said...

WELL $%*! YOU, YOU $%*in' PIECE OF $%@*in' $#!@. I HOPE YOU CHOKE ON A . . . Nah mang, it's cool. ;-)

Dan Gillson said...

. . . Do I tell papalinton that he quoted me? . . . Maybe I should just let him think that Ben said it . . . Naah, I think I'll tell him . . .

Paps, you were quoting me, not Ben.

Papalinton said...

Sorry Dan
You are absolutely right. While I was thinking Dan I was writing Ben.

A Freudian slip if ever there was one. My apologies.

Papalinton said...

Victor, I am with you in the sentiments you express. Good dialogue is a robust to and fro, but scoring points is a somewhat nonsense game.

Dan
"Part of the problem, I think, is that unbelievers come here to try to 'convert' Christians to atheism. (Papalinton comes immediately to mind.)"

I have no interest in 'converting' anyone to anything. Conversion starts from the inside, in what I roughly characterise as an 'endothermic' reaction. The heat is generated from this inside. Nobody but nobody can convert another to atheism. I did very early on in my commenting at DI cheekily attempted to enjoin Victor he was but an inch from atheism, and the final step is very small. But he was not for turning. :o)

I also cheekily attempted to remind Bob his position was almost the same to my being a methodological naturalist, and I think it was Bob that I noted that he was 99% or 99.94% an atheist, depending on how many gods extant he rejected, a statistically indistinguishable level of similarity.

One thing I have very much appreciated is that you have all stuck with me or stuck it to me, over a goodly long period, giving me your best, at times making me pay dearly and at other times allowing me a drawn game. I have learned heaps but it may not all be to your satisfaction. But that is to be expected because I do present a different perspective and worldview.

[Footnote: this comment has been reposted following correction. Thanks Dan]

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

For what it's worth, I agree with you!

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

I'm too lazy to search out my original reply to your "99% atheist" comment, but I'll give you the Readers' Digest version here:

I am most definitely not an atheist as regards Zeuz, Aphrodite, Odin, Ganesha, Makemake, or whatever other deity you might care to name. Some decades ago, you might have had some justification in claiming such, but no longer. I regard all such personages as more or less imperfect human attempts to understand the One God. I am certain that my own conception of Him is wildly inadequate. But that still makes me 100% theist.

Ilíon said...

"However, I singled out Ilíon's comment because I was trying to capture the attitude that I saw in it, viz., this idea that some people can never be right."

Then perhaps you might try again to understand the content of Ilíon's comment?

B. Prokop said...

"perhaps you might try again to understand the content of Ilíon's comment?"

Dan, don't even attempt it. It's a fruitless endeavor - like squaring the circle, or building a perpetual motion machine.

Seriously, all of Ilion's postings ought to come with a disclaimer, like "Here be Madness!"

Dan Gillson said...

You have me intrigued, Bob. But I think I'll take your advice today.

Ilíon said...

"Seriously, all of Ilion's postings ought to come with a disclaimer, like "Here be Madness!""

Translation: “We hates! him, Precious! He can so easily see through us!”

But I think I'll take your advice today.

Your choice: I don’t concern myself too much with those who will not understand what they wish to dispute.

Papalinton said...

Bob
"I am most definitely not an atheist as regards Zeuz, Aphrodite, Odin, Ganesha, Makemake, or.. .......... still makes me 100% theist."

Oh I know that Bob. I was simply recalling the time i cheekily implied you were a whisker away from being an atheist.

Crude said...

In Ilion's defense, saying this as a guy who he absolutely cannot stand and regularly condemns, Ilion typically understands the topic at hand and makes comments indicating as much, including arguments.

He's just extremely angry or condescending when doing it, and flips into trash-talk mode even easier than I do, which is saying something.

So I don't think "here there be madness" works for him, unless it's madness of the angry variety.

Ilíon said...


"In Ilion's defense, saying this as a guy who he absolutely cannot stand and regularly condemns, Ilion typically understands the topic at hand and makes comments indicating as much, including arguments.

He's just extremely angry or condescending when doing it, and flips into trash-talk mode even easier than I do, which is saying something.

So I don't think "here there be madness" works for him, unless it's madness of the angry variety.
"

How does this work? How, exactly, does one simultaneously speak in someone's defense and also both misrepresent him and spread further lies about him, projecting one's own social inadequacies and inept behaviors onto him?


"... extremely angry or condescending ... of the angry variety."

It's almost like a law of nature ... when a man willfully chooses to mouth a leftist lie, he inevitably finds himself spouting others.

I wonder how this foolish person, who seems not to comprehend that I do my best to ignore him, is going to react if he ever actually reads the Gospels and figures out what an "angry" and "condescending" "trash-talker" Jesus of Nazareth is.

Crude said...

How, exactly, does one simultaneously speak in someone's defense and also both misrepresent him and spread further lies about him, projecting one's own social inadequacies and inept behaviors onto him?

What was the lie? That you're condescending, or that you fly off the handle easily?

I mean, I have evidence. Here's one thread where you did it.

I wonder how this foolish person, who seems not to comprehend that I do my best to ignore him

I comprehend. The problem is I don't care. You apparently don't care either, since your attempts to ignore me fail spectacularly.

Hell, I was defending you here, but also simply being honest. Oops, there was my error.

is going to react if he ever actually reads the Gospels and figures out what an "angry" and "condescending" "trash-talker" Jesus of Nazareth is.

Paraphrasing a leftist: Ilion, I know Jesus of Nazareth. I've read the acts of Jesus of Nazareth. And Ilion, you're no Jesus of Nazareth.

I also know better than to think anything I could say here could ever convince you that you fly off the handle too much, trash talk too much or condescend too much. I'm also going to stand by what I said: you actually know and understand a lot of what you engage with, but your attitude and behavior leaves a lot to be desired.

Clearly Obama's gotten to me.