December 28

Today's quotation:

It is amazing how many people think that they can answer an argument by attributing bad motives to those who disagree with them.  Using this kind of reasoning, you can believe or not believe anything about anything, without having to bother to deal with facts or logic.

Thomas Sowell

Today's Meditation:

How do we face the world?  How do we treat other people in this amazing world of ours?  Do we treat their ideas and arguments with respect, or do we try to slam their thoughts and discredit them without even examining the thoughts themselves?  We seem to be dealing with a time in our history in which the personal attack is gaining more and more credibility, without any regard at all about whether we're actually facing any genuine issues at all.

If I have an idea that contradicts one of your deepest convictions, it's very tempting to try to discredit me by focusing on something other than my idea.  Perhaps my motives are unethical.  Perhaps my upbringing makes me incompetent to disagree with you.  But what about my idea?  If you try to discredit me without examining the idea, then you're rejecting-- not just losing-- the chance to learn something new and important about your own beliefs.  And the shame of that is that if you do make the effort to examine my idea, you might find that your own beliefs are more strongly reinforced.  But even if they aren't, it would be important for you to find that out, too.

We don't have a lot of role models these days in respecting the power of logic and reason.  And while these two qualities most definitely don't explain everything about everything, they are important gifts that we as human beings seem to have been given exclusively on this planet.  For us to ignore their power just to hold on to our own beliefs without dealing with facts is one of the most disrespectful things that we can do to the gift-giver, whomever you believe that being to be.

Do my thoughts contradict yours?  Then please do me the favor, as a fellow human being with similar gifts, of considering the possibility that there may be some reason behind what I think.  I do deserve that respect, just as everyone else on this planet-- all of our fellow human beings-- deserves.

Questions to consider:

Why might people focus on another person's motives rather than on facts or logic?

What kinds of things do other people disagree with you on?

Have you ever avoided an argument by attacking another person's motives?  Why?  How did it feel?

For further thought:

They are true fugitives who fly from reason.

Marcus Aurelius



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