Saturday, October 1, 2022

Vanishing art of arguing

“Don’t argue with me, I am the elder” “You’re my wife, act accordingly”, “don’t dare to argue with your husband” “I can’t work with him, he argues a lot”, “Hey! you are a girl. Is it decent to argue like this?” “Don’t you know your aukat (status), think twice before arguing with me….” Surely, you have heard or said these words at some point in your life without realising that whatever you know today is the result of the arguments put forward by somebody at some point of time.

My simple argument is that being argumentative is good for the family and the society because if done with good intention argumentative environment is a sign of vitality that leads to a thriving democratic set up. It makes the society a place where people can always put forward their point of view without hesitation. Otherwise, they will never be able to see the other side of the coin and Every group/individual will believe that they are the only right ones.

Unfortunately, we are living in such time when there is no place for discussion and debate…only propaganda and hunger for quick publicity are all around. The two largest democracies of the world – India and America, both are facing the crisis of overuse or underuse of ‘freedom of expression’ like never before.

The polarised opinions are breaking all sorts of existing bonds. The perceptions are being built through political or religious affiliations. No one is being judged by what one is saying but by the group/religion/nation they belong to. We are witnessing the debates of worst kinds currently. The participants argue with biased minds and fixed opinions. They argue within certain ideological framework where there is no place for the ‘others’.

Interestingly, one accuses the ‘other’ for being intolerant but himself behaves in the most fanatical manner. If you look at the recent presidential debate in United states or watch regular debates running in primetime on Indian television news channels, you won’t find any sign of resolution or solution through their arguments. Instead there is a higher chance that it may provoke or enhance the chaos and confusion already prevalent in the society.

So it’s important that we ponder on the necessity of the constructive argument. First and foremost, we must acknowledge that the act of argumentation is a productive one. The arguments have always been a sign of rational, inquisitive mind. If one has logical argument on certain topic that’s means he has given a thought on it.

That effort must be appreciated. No knowledge is ultimate that is why arguments and discussions are so essential for progression. The stagnancy of any sort is the sign of dead, we all know this. The very understanding of the fact that knowledge is limitless and no truth is ultimate, can lead us to appreciate and undertake positive debates.

We also need to accept that constructive argument is possible only when you acknowledge the fluid status of existing knowledge. The arguments whether aligned with ones thought or not, must be heard patiently, understood thoroughly and then counter argued. All kinds of viewpoints must be encouraged. The very act of argument must be taken as the collective effort to

reach to the objective common good, by adding new information and better solutions. The aim of any argument must always be to prove ‘what is right?’ instead of ‘who is right?’. It must be applied in all private public debates that the goal of argument is to creating knowledge rather than showing up one’s.

The participants must have the familiarity with the historical and contemporary status of the subject and should be ready to acknowledge the existence of the ‘other’. The arguments cannot be and must not be for the sake of argument but it must churn out something ‘good’ for the society and mankind. Remember, the act of manthan to fetch amrit, similar should be our act of argument.

Dr. Neha Tiwari
Dr. Neha Tiwari
Dr Neha Tiwari is an academic, writer, critic and filmmaker. She has been nominated as a member of the jury for Best Writing in Cinema for the 65th National Film Awards. She has written 6 state-level radio features and 1 Serial for AIR. Her areas of interest include media, literature and life. She teaches in Karim City College Jamshedpur as an Assistant Professor of English. She is also nurturing Mass Communication as a Professor In-charge since 2005.

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