The Art of Argument

There is a Monty Python skit titled “The Argument Clinic” that is quite near and dear to my heart. If you aren’t familiar with it, you can watch it here:

You see, I really do enjoy a good argument. My son and I got in the habit of arguing about the silliest of things many years ago, and have elevated it to something of an art form. We are often both staking out positions with which we do not agree, and trying to come up with the most absurd, yet internally consistent arguments possible. We can literally go on for hours, smiling and laughing about it the whole time, but it can still irritate my wife to no end.

There are benefits of practicing the art of argument. It can help you spot the flaws in any argument, whether it be your own, or those of another. It provides you with a broader toolbox when arguing a topic about which you actually care, and it can help you identify when those tools should be used. Whether it would be better to be passionate, or purely logical to get your point across, you will be prepared. It also has helped me to realize that one can seldom win an argument, and that often the best that one can hope for is to get one’s point across.

So, what do you think? Do you know anyone who enjoys, or excels at, the art of argument? Do you find them annoying, amusing, or amazing? Are you the kind of person who enjoys the art of argument, and how did that come to be for you?

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No, it can’t.

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Yes, it can.

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No you don’t.

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No, it can’t.

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Of course the expected rebuttal is “Yes, it can”, going back and forth a bit until it is pointed out that we are merely engaging in simple contradiction. After a bit more back on forth in the same vein regarding whether or not it is contradiction, it should become apparent that we are actually engaging on a meta argument about the nature of an argument itself. Now, while technically, simple contradiction is a form of argument, I would submit that it is not an artful form of argument, and is therefor ultimately unsatisfying.

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No, it isn’t.

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Ah, so I now surmise that your argument entails the position that simple contradiction taken to an absurd length can be rather comedic, and as comedic performance is a well respected art form, you are actually engaging in the Art of Argument.

To you I say, “Well Done, Sir!”

And, of course, “Yes, it is.”

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But what if it could?

Rhetorical. Disqualified.

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Aaaaalmost appropriate…

it

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Is not.

Tim Curry has a contrary opinion.

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You win.

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Do not!

:sunglasses:

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Well, this has all gotten rather silly…

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image

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Seriously though, I totally agree on argumentation and the skills and abilities one develops therein. I once debated someone in front of a relatively serious audience about the merits of Star Wars vs. Star Trek. Not sure which one I did, actually: it isn’t like you can’t make an argument for either one. Anyway, my biggest problem is that I can’t find anyone to argue with. Most people kinda lose patience the second they get that you aren’t really serious.

It is also a lot of fun, especially if you enjoy a challenge.

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I guess I am fortunate that my son is always up for a good argument, although it may have to be conducted out of earshot from my wife. One should take care in trying to hone those skills on the internet, however, as tone and the nuance derived from it is easily lost. Accusations of trollish behavior are certainly soon to follow.

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