I was considering the motives that I have for entering (or not entering) into any discussion that will involve some level of debate – on just about any topic or subject matter.
There are some debates that will be nothing but a waste of time. People have many opinions and many causes for arriving at those opinions, both rational and irrational. In the latter case, any amount of discussion, rational or not, will generally do nothing to alter their opinion.
So here are some of the reasons why I might enter a discussion, even one that might seem to others to be a waste of time:
The process of hashing out one’s ideas can be a good enough reason alone to enter into a debate. You may be preaching to the pig-headed, but by doing so you are going to confront many of the counter arguments and rebuttals you may get from any number of sources where other ‘gains’ can be made by way of presenting your arguments. Being prepared to rebut those responses will help you when you get into one of those situations.
- A receptive audience
The most obvious reason to enter into a discussion is because some of the items you can bring to the discussion will help others to form their opinions where they otherwise don’t have one or are at least willing and able to consider other points of view. Even if the person you are countering is not going to change their mind, some of the observers of the discussion may – or may not have come to an opinion yet.
- A respected adversary
Many times I will enter into a discussion with someone that may share my view or may be completely opposed to my thoughts on a particular subject matter. But such a person is someone whom I know is a rational person and has good reasons for the views they hold. In other words, I have respect for their opinions and the manner in which they arrived at them even if I don’t entirely agree with them all the time.
In the case of such a person, I know that any arguments or contrary views that they raise are generally going to be the result of a sound deductive process and their own observations and therefore be ‘reasonable’. We are all limited by our own perspective and alternate points of view can be very helpful in formulating our own opinions.
I should also add that any such person is also generally the type of person who will – as I do – not only consider other opinions themselves, but may – as I also might – change their own opinion, or parts of it when faced with another’s perspective that is also based on sound reason.
- Creating a Diversion
This is one I often get told I’m nuts for engaging in. I call it “jumping in front of the bus”. Basically, it entails people that are going to spew irrational, illogical or downright inane opinions regardless of your participating or not. And where – if I am so inclined and have the patience and time – I can distract them from either annoying others with or possibly brain washing others to their idiotic way of thinking.
It’s not a reason I prefer, but one I sometimes do if there are others around that I wish to spare the agony of enduring some jackass’s pontifications.
- Person of value
OK, so the person is pigheaded, won’t listen, won’t think, won’t reason. But for whatever reason of your own, there is still some value in trying in hopes that some day their brain might grow another cell – maybe it’s a family member, a friend of a friend or someone you’re stuck having to deal with at work. Pick your own motive cause, but sometimes there are people where it is in our best interest to keep trying to convince them to see the error of their ways.
(there was at least one other I was thinking of earlier, but it’s slipping my head at the moment, so I’ll finish this later if it comes to me)