Takes One to Know One

How to Stop an Argument 101 – Part 1

Posted by David—

Everyone argues. It’s human nature, isn’t it? I’m right and you’re wrong and this is why: “Because of (a), (b) and (c)…” Or I might just yell, “nuh, uh!” There have been the times, that justification for my ‘point’ resorted to name calling. And with that the argument really starts to dissolve.  Then comes my personal favorite rebuttal: “Takes one to know one!” At least, there’s a bit of humility there.

I’m finding that all arguing, yes, all, is a completely useless enterprise. In fact, it’s more than that:  it is self-defeating. Everyone has had the sort of argument, when as you start arguing your side, you actually end up justifying your ‘opponent’ through your argument. Digging your hole deeper they say. That’s the way it always is, only sometimes it is more apparent with those who are less gifted in the art of speaking.

Just because I am arguing expresses a hesitance that, um, maybe I’m not fully justified. Truth is self-justifying and we know it in our deepest being.  That’s why we argue, because we want to hide the facts through reason. But the only necessary and valid witness in any argument is Truth itself (Himself). And don’t think that any one side is usually in the ‘right’. I suspect that even if one side of the argument seems valid and true, there’s falsehoods tucked deep within. Truth has no need for aruging, because Truth is self-evident. 

As I have said before I think the only reason language was ‘invented’ by man was to conceal truth through reason. Language was not necessary before man began his path along the big lie. Sure we communicated, but it was probably more akin to song before that.

The flip side to truth being self-justifying is that lies are self-convicting. This is why we never need to argue, nor should argue in our own defense or in the defense of others. Yes, we must witness to the truth, but there’s no need to go further than that. This or that is the way it is. And if we can say something in truth, then the truth will be self-justified. And if we lie or mislead, then no matter how much we argue, the falsehood will be revealed.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:32



Filed under language, philosophy, Uncategorized

4 responses to “Takes One to Know One

  1. Clark Kent

    Arguing does seem to be generally relatively fruitless. However, discussions of issues can lead to provision of information from all sides and creative, exploratory dialogue resulting in learning experiences. When we argue, it seems to me that we may very well “hide the facts through reason,” but I disagree that we often “want” to do so. Wanting implies intention, which is not likely present. Generally, in an argument we think or believe we are “right,” and there’s where the problem is, and there are certainly often elements of “truth” on both or all sides of the issue.

    Regarding truth – “There you go again!” “The only valid witness in any argument is Truth itself (Himself).” Perhaps in an argument one might be able to say that there is some objective “truth” represented by real, concrete, objective facts, but to talk about such being a “valid witness” moves this discussion into poetics and loose abstractions in which objectivity begins to vaporize. Then when you bring in the isomorphism Truth equals Himself the discussion moves into the realm of religious belief and constructs (which of course knowing your penchant, we knew that was where you were going all along! Just for the record, the notions Jesus is Truth is The Word sound impressive to believers. However, I find rather scary such efforts at creating logic, while disregarding the realities of logical thinking. I’m no expert at such things, but I think we’re looking at Greek literary and quasi-logical constructions rather than anything from the Hebrews or the first generation of followers of Jesus).

    Truth is self-evident? I don’t think so. I wonder what kind of truth you’re thinking about. There may be some self-evident truths, but most of the time we humans are engaged in controversial dialogue, we must struggle with facts and opinions, organize our thoughts and ideas, and then what we come up with is meanings. Meanings are generally quite complex, abstract, and are comprised of deeper structural meanings that ultimately are coalesced with feelings; at the deepest level, it may be that meanings are beyond language (you seem to have suggested something like this in your argument above).

    Not being anthropologists, we are both way out of our element in hypothizing about why language developed in humans. But it seems to me that it was not developed “to conceal truth through reason.” Rather, language likely developed to communicate information and served to bind families and groups together and facilitate the survival of the species.

    Thanks for the opportunity to work my mind a little in ways that I don’t normally.

    Regards, Clark
    PS: I am wearing my office shirt

  2. Thanks ‘Clark’. Are you inherently thorough and concise or is that a technique learned at Superhero School? Maybe I should first ask do superheros go to school or do they develop their skills naturally? I suppose this might be a nature vs. nurture thingy.

    My goal with this series is to help people in stopping arguments, because I have found them to be very distructive in my life. It’s only from personal experience that I’ve learned some interesting and wonderful things I’m discussing here. You might say that I don’t have any data with which to back my conclusions, you may be right. But I do have qualitative experiences that have taught me some truth.

    But the best way to see if I’m correct in my thinking here is to try it out. This stuff definitely takes practices, like anything.

    See for yourself. See if anything truly Marvelous comes out of it.

  3. Linda

    The concept that “…the only reason language was ‘invented’ by man was to conceal truth through reason” is a sad statement and/or a cynical one or it is argument ad absurdum (sp). Language has surely always been used to share simple information. “The car is in the garage.” The family is in that cave.” That is the opposite of concealing the truth. Language has also been used to convey aesthetic appreciation. “Look! The sky is beautiful.” It has been used to express emotions more nuanced than mad, sad, glad. “I am lonely, bemused, annoyed but not angry.” It also expresses all kinds of abstractions: thought, concepts, imagination.

    I believe at the deepest level language serves truth and helps us understand the subtleties and range of truth. Even when we try to deceive or unintentionally misrepresent, or ignorantly misstate, we learn more about what real truth is by diagnosing and studying untruths.

    Re argument, I agree that most of it is counterproductive, divisive and harmful. At the same time, our respect for truth means we will sometimes hear things or discover things we do not like or do not want, but which are nevertheless true. Our mate is using drugs, for example. In that case we must talk about it, and in doing so we may find we don’t agree. Is it an argument if we disagree and talk about it, or only if we disagree rudely, combatively, or to win.
    I agree that some people are good at arguing and could “win” almost any argument by manipulating words best.
    One of the greatest fallacies we fall prey to is the idea that winning a debate means you are right and your opinion should prevail. Being a better debater DOES NOT equate with being right. It does not equate with anything but that you use words effectively and could win a debater award, not a truth award or a best ideas award. Debate is about winning a battle of ideas. They don’t have to valid ones but they are presented as truth.. It is the same as winning an argument by being the loudest or most threatening, or best interrupter, or refusing to talk about it — all adaptive qualities — but nothing that necessarily presents truth or sound decisions. Nor does yelling or threatening or debating, or refusing to talk mean one is wrong.

    So, if we realize that we will inevitably disagree about things that require action or decision making, how shall we manage without fighting or bringing out our ill-concealed weapons?

    I like the idea of putting our cards on the table.
    Write what your weapons of choice are and lay them on the table. Lists might include “specious arguments — interrupting — bringing up historical events — character criticism — name calling — claiming one’s being rational when being emotional (most common form: “I want it so it is a good decision.” or “We can’t afford it” vs “I don’t want to spend the money on that.” OR “We can afford it” vs “I want to spend the money.”)

    Most of us likely have a specialized, not long, list. Ideally you will leave out nothing major, but your “discussion” partner should be invited to add to your list.
    If you feel compelled to argue over the lists, seek counseling asap.

    Before discussions about disagreements, limit and set your goal. What are we trying to decide? Make a specific appointment for the discussion. (Someone may need time to think. Someone may be too tired.)

    Then consider this Buddhist guideline. Re finding truth, in the West we feature talking. In the East, they feature silence. No human has the whole truth about a given situation. I may have 80% and you 20%. In discussion, my goal is first to learn from you the 20% I don’t know.

  4. I’m not saying that communication didn’t exist, but that language in it’s wordy form didn’t exist. We knew exactly what we were saying to each other with no need to read between the lines. There were no ‘lines’. There were no words. There was only the truth behind the statements. It would have been like passing a vision or a idea to another person. Language in its present form obscures truth.

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