How to plant a seed in someone else´s garden

I would describe myself as a passionate person.  I study philosophy, because I have always loved analysis -examining literary texts, argumentation, anything really.  For some unromantic reason, the beauty of a poem doesn´t hit me through its line-by-line recitation. To me its beauty lies within the individuation of its linguistic forms and their link to their function played for the poem´s content. I guess a great part of analysis is asking oneself questions. Mostly “why?”. When I say I understand a matter, then it is because I´m able myself to derive it step by step from something, which I would now strategically call “premises”. And that´s why I love logic. Because everything can be traced back to some set of statements- no magic, no trickery.

Now, the problem is that humans´ arguments don´t work like that. Very few start listing their assumptions before making a point- and those who do, come over as emotionless robots. I think that´s why my mom doesn´t like to discuss with me- she´s rather a romantic kind of arguer. Among several other features, there is one I really don´t like about myself: myself as an arguer in casual context. For some irrational reason I set very high aims concerning the formal structure of others´ argumentation and I just cannot let go, if I don´t understand how they followed their conclusion from some set of beliefs they have. This makes arguing with me on a chilled sunday evening in front of beers, one of the most painful, torturing experiences for my sparring-partner(s). Lately I came to the conclusion that my way of arguing is a product of complete immaturity and naivety. Mostly because it´s not like my casual augmentations even remotely reach my high expectations of formality. Basically, yes, I´m a hypocrite.

Why immature and ingenuous? A wise couple once told me that planting an infinitely small seed in the other´s mind is an aim high enough for a causal argument. In contrast, I always try not only to let my sparring-partner adopt my view, but also to make him/her the greatest, most convinced supporter of it- you understand, it is a completely immature and idealistic conception of a casual discussion. Even more so, because I should have learnt at some point in time, that raising the doubt (or planting the seed) is one of the ultimate aims of philosophy, to which I am so lovefully committed. And moreover, that it is only due to difference in thought that philosophy can strive. Hence, this made of me a hypocrite twice. Last week I read an entry by “Philosophy Matters” on Facebook- basically a page for philosophy nerds.

[…] And the broader ignorance of our times is why Philosophy Matters more than ever. Philosophy is, at least in part, a confrontation with and calling into question of commonplace ideas, conventional wisdom, presuppositions, received information, and prejudices. It requires the appreciation of difference and nuance, and an encounter with and openness to the Other. Hysterical reaction formations are, in this regard, radically anti-philosophical. […]

I´m clearly disappointed at myself.  Also, it turns out so hard to improve! But we all (I´m adopting the plural here to feel less lonely in my misery) should commit to improve, for we otherwise hold our loved ones from discussing with us. And even if for some a discussionless relation is the highest goal, to me it is the deepest affliction. Confrontations are a fire we should light more often. They require our individuality, our self-made beliefs and thoughts and confront them with the Other. It is a place where one is alone -in supporting one´s convictions-, but together in growing new ones. In a sense, it is a mysterious, magical and tricky process, and we couldn´t replace it with a forthright derivation from a set of premises.

Thus, let´s get to some gardening and plant more seeds, rather than watering our convictions and logging others´.

One thought on “How to plant a seed in someone else´s garden

  1. Luckily enough, human beings have instincts, emotions and develop sentiments. This is our nature – the premises, as you would call it -. We should always counter both statements and questions with other questions, not with answers, in order to investigate the cui prodest of any assertion. We might not be able to induce reflection, but we might be able to understand.

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