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The Futility of Disputes by Thomas Jefferson

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Nacchinarkiniyan

Well-known member
But in stating prudential rules for our government
in society I must not omit the important
one of never entering into dispute or argument
with another. I never saw an instance of one
of two disputants convincing the other by argument.
I have seen many, on their getting warm,
becoming rude, and shooting one another. Conviction
is the effect of our own dispassionate
reasoning, either in solitude, or weighing within
ourselves, dispassionately, what we hear from
others, standing uncommitted in argument ourselves.
It was one of the rules which, above all
others, made Doctor Franklin the most amiable
of men in society "never to contradict anybody."
If he was urged to announce an opinion, he did
it rather by asking questions, as if for information,
or by suggesting doubts. When I hear another
express an opinion which is not mine, I
say to myself he has a right to his opinion, as
I to mine; why should I question it? His error
does me no injury, and shall I become a Don
Quixote, to bring all men by force of argument
to one opinion? If a fact be misstated, it is
probable he is gratified by a belief of it, and I
have no right to deprive him of the gratification.
If he wants information, he will ask it, and then
I will give it in measured terms; but if he still
believes his own story, and shows a desire to
dispute the fact with me, I hear him and say
nothing. It is his affair, not mine, if he prefers
error.

There are two classes of disputants most frequently
to be met with among us. The first is
of young students, just entered the threshold of
science, with a first view of its outlines, not yet
filled up with the details and modifications which
a further progress would bring to their knowledge.
The other consists of the ill-tempered and
rude men in society, who have taken up a passion
for politics. (Good humor and politeness
never introduce into mixt society a question on
which they foresee there will be a difference of
opinion.) From both of those classes of disputants,
my dear Jefferson, keep aloof as you
would from the infected subjects of yellow fever
or pestilence. Consider yourself, when with
them, as among the patients of Bedlam, needing
medical more than moral counsel. Be a listener
only, keep within yourself, and endeavor to establish
with yourself the habit of silence, especially
on politics. In the fevered state of our
country no good can ever result from any attempt
to set one of these fiery zealots to rights, either
in fact or principle. They are determined as to
the facts they will believe, and the opinions on
which they will act. Get by them, therefore, as
you would by an angry bull; it is not for a man
of sense to dispute the road with such an animal.
 

Nacchinarkiniyan

Well-known member
Some of the discussions in the recent past in this forum reminded of the above quotes from Thomas Jefferson. I thought I would share it with all the members. I wish I could follow it at all times.

When I hear another express an opinion which is not mine, I say to myself he has a right to his opinion, as I to mine; why should I question it? His error does me no injury, and shall I become a Don Quixote, to bring all men by force of argument to one opinion? If a fact be misstated, it is probable he is gratified by a belief of it, and I have no right to deprive him of the gratification. If he wants information, he will ask it, and then I will give it in measured terms; but if he still believes his own story, and shows a desire to dispute the fact with me, I hear him and say nothing. It is his affair, not mine, if he prefers error.
 

KRS

Well-known member
Dear Sri Nacchinarkiniyan Ji,

You and Sri Kunjuppu Ji follow this than most of us.

Those were civilized times when some great intellects were living at the same time and as landed gentry their words were measured with eloquence.

These are uncivilized times when words are hurled around towards anyone with the safety of the cyberspace anonymity. Besides, like the 24 hour news cycle needing 'news' to fill it, in today's world of instant gratification what else is better than to feel the joy of hurling well constructed abuse towards your cyber enemy? May be one had a bad day at work and there is no dog to kick around at home, but presto, there is the cyber dog, lurking out there, masquerading itself as a cyber human, that can take some kicking.

A well timed posting! I will try to do my best.

Regards,
KRS


Some of the discussions in the recent past in this forum reminded of the above quotes from Thomas Jefferson. I thought I would share it with all the members. I wish I could follow it at all times.
 
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