And therefore eloquent speakers are inclined to ambition, for eloquence seemeth wisdom, both to themselves and others.
Thomas Hobbes. (Leviathan)
The above quote is from a political philosophy classic, Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes. I haven’t actually read the core text. Contrary to this misperception, I am quite against reading the original core texts. I mean, I have hardly even read the IB lit texts (sparknotes is my best friend, and I got 7 anyway =P). I actually think it’s a bit pretentious to read core texts…but some people are genuinely interested, or they just have homework to finish.
Based on my prior readings in English History (not sure if it’s a bit of a waste) and the Politics of the Common Law. All I know about Hobbes is 1. he was a character from the English Civil War period 2. he shows that there is a need for strong central government (instead of separation of powers) 3. because of the ‘hobbesian’ nature of humans, without government, there can only be chaos.
But i digress. His quote just happens to support my long time view (three years counts as pretty long) that debate is actually unhealthy.
There’s actually a lot to gain from debate. It supposedly makes you smarter in how you analyse ideas, argue them and see them from another angle. In addition, you broaden your general knowledge. The practical gains are manifested in essay writing and presentation. It is all the more so beneficial when needing to show your worth at selection for overseas-money-for-schoolings. Even if it doesn’t make you smarter, its a nice thing to have on record — which once again aids with selection. Above all, it builds confidence and self-esteem.
But I think that debate is unhealthy. Here are ten reasons:
First, it won’t necessarily make you smarter, but it will sure as hell make you think that you’re smarter. It’s really all about the ego. Hearing the sound of your own voice and the things you can come up to show why other people are wrong (and therefore stupid), while you are right.
Second, (branching from point one) you think you’re smarter than non-debate people — which is often not the case. This happens when you believe too much in what can be gained from debate. That’s just arrogant.
Third, you end up with a very insular social circle of intellectual people, in part due to the people you interact with, in part due to expectations
(which is actually okay as long as they’re pretty)
Fourth, you develop a competitive mindset and a ‘zero-sum game’ consciousness. Either you’re right or you’re wrong. It’s either a win or lose. There’s no in-between. With so many competitive debates, there are bound to many wins and many losses. If you’re lucky, you just start to be indifferent about whether you win or lose (why does it matter anyway -_-) funny tho, i’ve seen people (a lot) cry, emo over etc. Statistically speaking, more people lose than win. There is ultimately only one winner.
Fifth, you’re exposed to grave world issues at a young age when you’re supposed to be blissfully ignorant. What sort of sec two kid reads the economist.
Sixth, as a result of the fifth point, you end up cynical and jaded. the world is a messed up place, like how hobbes would see it
Seventh, if you don’t become cynical and jaded — your opinion ends up amorphous. Both sides always have merits to their arguments. Whenever your opinion starts to take a slant, you instinctively counter it. After all, you’re trained to counter anything. Anything goes.
Eighth, branching from the seventh point– you become plain indifferent to even serious issues. Serious issues are just another competition topic, where you can make yourself adopt either stance.
Ninth, it’s sibeh time consuming — at the expense of doing many other things you actually enjoy.
Tenth, branching from the ninth point: either you’re spending so much time on something you don’t enjoy. or you actually enjoy it which means that — congratulations you developed some obsessive tendency ><. Given how time consuming it is, its no false dilemma — it really has to be either one ><
(I would add point eleven: that it encourages too many people to go into law, which is unhealthy in and of itself. But that has more than enough material for itself.)
…okay I managed to hit ten, but i cheated by splitting a lot of points — which is actually still valid. I know obsessive people, cynical people, jaded people, arrogant people, apathetic people, ambitious people, indecisive people, crazy people, scary people,…the list goes on. We’ll see how I related to this personally some other day.