Not by Argument

When I first read the saying, “PEOPLE ARE CONVINCED NOT BY ARGUMENTS BUT BY OBSERVATION,” I pondered deeply about it.

For someone who is so interested in logical inferences, I was a little bit skeptical. For many years I believed that arguments are the best tool for convincing people. Set the right premises, and express clearly the conclusion, and that’s it, if you are good enough, your arguments will be irrefutable. People will be convinced.

I was wrong.

Gradually I have observed and learned that verbal argument actually sometimes is the last part in the process of changing minds. After we have observed enough actions, our mind becomes open to the arguments behind that action. If in case, arguments come first, we tend to wait for compelling actions before we are convinced. Then again, after we have carefully observed the action, the arguments just naturally follows.

If a person wants me to believe that he’s trustworthy, no amount of argument will convince me; I need to observe his actions.

If in case a person shows me trustworthiness in her action, even without explaining, I will be convinced that I can trust her.

Virtue is Knowledge; Wickedness is Ignorance

My tranquility was once again disturbed by a friend. One day she called me to help her out in her assignment. Being a close friend, I quickly answered yes. But when I started reading the seven different dicta of seven ancient philosophers, I also started to panic. I love the subject, yes…Philosophy for me contains the most exciting but also the most exhausting things to ponder about. How can I simply establish rational reaction to these philosophers’ words of wisdom without given enough time to ponder deeply? My ungenerous friend did not give me the luxury of time: she wanted me to deliver my quick reaction in two days. So I attempted.

Of those ‘Words of Wisdom” from different philosophers, one struck me like no other: According to Socrates,

“All vice is the result of ignorance, and that no person is willingly bad; correspondingly, virtue is knowledge, and those who know the right will act rightly.”

My quick reaction was to disagree, of course. I began my argument with the assumption that knowing is separate from acting. Meaning, our knowledge can be used for both good and bad. It is the choice of the person who possesses the knowledge where he’s going to use it.

Let’s look at the obvious. Many people who know too much use their knowledge in wickedness. Therefore, Socrates was wrong. Or was he?

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See you on the next pages. 🙂