On the Spirit of Opposition.

[This is not a GE2015 post]

A mentor once commented that I had a spirit of opposition in the way I thought. I never thought about myself that way, but that she mentioned it like a good thing, certainly influenced me to treat that observation as a good thing.

This ‘spirit of opposition’ certainly stems from my experiences in competitive debating. It amazed me how by being forced to take an arbitrary side of a debate motion, one could retrospectively rationalize why one’s side was the better side. We also didn’t have much of a choice – if we ever were to doubt our position, it would reflect in weak speeches. We were logicians/rhetoricians without any pre-decided positions on any possible debate motion. Coming out with good arguments always began by first believing that we were right, not the other way around. This semi-brainwashing our minds for the sake of making good arguments for the debate, as I recall, was such an amazing phenomena.

Fast forward to my encounter with critical epistemologies, I’ve found myself deliberately playing the devil’s advocate so as to stretch the possibilities of argument. For e.g., in making argument X, we have to assume a, b, and c. But can we really assume a, b and c even though they seem common-sensical? I think I’ve found this extremely productive in part because one can be surprised at how the most common-sensical are untrue. Yet, all of this stems from an irrational desire to disagree first. We often surprise ourselves at the kind of logics (and afterwards, evidence) that appears to support our initially irrational and almost solely emotional disagreements.

Here’s my main point: so many people are afraid of emotions, as if they corrupt logic. The result is an emotionless, boring, unengaged and ultimately neither creative nor productive type of argument. Emotions, as in my experience, are the starting point for arguments because we always feel first, then make logical arguments retrospectively. Therefore, rather than trying to get rid of emotions, I think we ought to embrace emotions, using it as an inevitable part of us, and as a tool to question existing assumptions, and ultimately generate new and creative arguments. That, I think, is the spirit of opposition.

Ok, I’ll edit this post later. Here for notes.


~ by moz on September 12, 2015.

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