Hasty Argumentation

Hasty Argumentation February 20, 2018

Yes, there are replies one can use to put a brake on this hasty argumentativeness, a hastiness which is dangerous in all manners, but especially in discussions about God. *

If an idea draws reasonable controversy, or deals with difficult problems, then here is a safe rule: nobody can master that idea quickly or solve that problem with a homemade YouTube video.  Want to know how to spot a person who does not wish to learn by argument, but is simply argumentative?

They will focus on what is wrong with what you did or said and either have no training in what they critique or have no positive alternative. There is nothing wrong with a critique, but the best come from someone who has done serious thinking about the subject. You might not have an alternative, but if you have worked hard to learn about a subject over time, then you likely have something to say worth hearing. Still, the best critic will be able to point to something better: not a film made like this one, but a film shot this way instead.

Forming a positive alternative requires even more knowledge, but also soundness of soul. Argumentativeness is anger masked as intellectual activity with hastiness as the cover up strategy. An argumentative person does not like actual arguments, but is interested in expressing an opinion and never reading or considering contrary points of view. The argumentative person does not just have a mind immune to change, but a mouth unable to cease opining.

Since the argumentative person often claims to enjoy arguments, his incessant harping makes many kind people think they hate dialog or intellectual activity. So the danger is not just from the Argumentative Man, but from the negativity he leaves in his wake toward real education or genuine theology. If the almost foolproof sign of the person who is argumentative is haste, then the result is always less reading, less discussion, and fewer friendships.

The argumentative man thinks he can read some blogs, follow a Twitter thread or two, watch some online videos and “get it.” He quickly shares what he has learned and loves the “mic drop” moment or meme that sums it all up.  He may have no training in philosophy, but he gets that it is all bull. He is not a climate scientist, has limited math background, yet knows that “they” are just in the pay of “them.”

The argumentative man wants to win!

The argumentative man must be hasty, because the person educated in reasoning has to do harder work than the argumentative man is willing to do. He knows the truth, so he just lays down the truth. If we do not get it, then too bad for us.

The argumentative man will always focus on negatives, because they are easy to see.  As Gregory points out: “To censure, of course, is a trivial task- anyone so minded can do it quite easily. But to substitute one’s own view takes a man of sound religion and true sense.”

Saint Gregory makes these comments to preface his presentation of his own views on Christology, some of the most profound written. Only then will he attack the views of his hasty and argumentative opponents. He is doing the hardest work first and opening himself up to return arguments. However, the argumentative man is not to be feared, because Gregory is a capable opponent who is not going away.

Drop a metaphorical mic on Saint Gregory and he will pick it up and use it to deepen our knowledge of the truth.**

The man who loves argument and uses it to find the truth persists. Gregory uses tough arguments, is not afraid of rhetorical flourishes (loves them!), but has something to say based on years of patient study.



*from Oration 29 On God and Christ by Gregory Nazianzus (SVS)

**Is the ancient equivalent of a mic-drop moment silence?

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