Arguments are fencing matches.
There is a formal ritual at the beginning. You settle into a topic and a question.
There’s the tentative clink of the first few thrusts. Positions taken, assessed, abandoned or adopted and battle lines drawn.
In the middle, the thrusts and parries are fast and aggressive. Words and arguments are pushed to their logical conclusion, and beyond. Each side probes for weakness.
Finally there’s victory, a killer blow. A winning argument, the final word.
And it’s over. The opponents shake hands, graciously accept the result and shrug their shoulders at what might have been. They put the battle out of their minds.
This is how I saw arguments. As a sport, no conviction or belief was necessary. It was an intellectual exercise that didn’t require irrevocable moral commitment to a position, nor any duty of coherency.
Fate favourably granted me people who understand this position and enjoyed it, and so resulted in many memorable debates over a variety of positions.
I’m now convinced of the inadequacy of this ritualised perception.
This knowledge is the foundation of my effort to evade conflict and forestall arguments. To stay away from the controversial. To stay away from the thorny issues to which I would respond in my natural dialectical way.
I’ve become convinced of the inadequacy of this retreat into solitude.
Where we agree, where we disagree, how we disagree and why are too important questions to be ignored under a false flag of understanding. They have to be explored.
What remains is another via media, a compromise between the argumentative and the passive. The middle path of taking a real position. To find my own views, and to defend them where they need defending.
The difficulty? I’m not sure what my own views are on many things. They’ve never mattered before.