Arguments are (Not) Useless

Purpose of Argument

Arguments are useless.

When we argue, we pick one side and defend it with all our might to protect our fragile egos, which are on the line. That leads us to shut our ears to what the other side has to say, regardless if their point is valid or not.

Without saying (but I’ll say it anyway), the other side won’t listen to us, too. They have their own egos to defend. So you might as well talk to a mannequin in a department store — at least they wear fashionable clothes.

Wait?! Have I been arguing that arguments are useless? Let’s hear what the other side has to say….

Arguments are useful.

I’ve been arguing with myself, and here are my reasons why arguing is useful:

  • You can express your views.

    First, saying what you want makes you feel better.

    Second, most people will respect you for having your own views, and not merely mirroring what the popular opinion is.

    Lastly, what we say can often affect the thinking of others. Our actions come from our thoughts, and different actions lead to different results. Meaning we can change something albeit indirectly by expressing our views.

  • You can come up with a new idea.

    Paul Graham, an essayist, programmer, and venture capitalist once wrote about writing:

    Writing doesn’t just communicate ideas; it generates them.

    Even though an argument may not only be written but spoken as well, they are just different modes of communication. In addition to what most people experience while arguing, we can presume that arguments lead to idea generation as well.

  • You (and the other person) can learn from each other.

    Contrary to what has been said above, if we keep our emotions in check while arguing, then we can think more clearly.

    And if we can think more clearly, we are more likely to learn from the other side and vice versa.

    Good communicators do so naturally. They can express their ideas precisely and clearly, but they also listen when the other side is the one doing the talking (or writing).

In summary, arguing why arguments are useless is a paradox. The other side can argue that arguments are useful, and if something that is labeled as useless can be useful, then it’s not useless at all — but useful.

Photo credit: Jon Collier from Flickr.

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