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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Defending your ideas

Okay, why is academic freedom important? Because in order to think, in order to exercise your freedom, you need to be educated – and in order for people to be educated they need to have the freedom to consider a very wide range of ideas, to have their own preconceptions questioned, and questioned vigorously. They have to learn how to tolerate ideas that are really abhorrent to them. They need to learn the difference between ideas and actions. They need to learn that people can have very different ideas, and they can debate them without coming to blows.

You know, in our world today, one way you can stop people from coming to blows about their conflicting ideas is by teaching them how to argue, and teaching them not to be afraid of argument. There’s an important difference between being embarrassed or feeling intellectually or emotionally wounded because you’re at the losing end of an argument, and actually being physically assaulted. I think it’s incredibly important for students to learn how to argue, and to learn how to appreciate and even enjoy argument.

Wendy Kaminer on academic freedom.

8 comments:

Mitchell said...

If you look at politicians - not just from the US but from anywhere - you can see that most of them do not know how to argue properly. If a politician did manage to make a logically correct argument, I have a feeling the people would look at him with that sort of quizical expression you give an animal who is trying to comunicate something you just can't understand what.
Politics is even changing the kinds of arguments academics are allowed to have. The proffessor at the University of Colorado, Ward Churchill, is an example of this.
I whole heartedly agree that people should be taught how to argue.

Ewout said...

To argue propperly, in adition to what is said before, one should give a definition of what is argued about.In academical argumentation this might seem easier than in political argumentation, for the main reason that there is mostly some other agenda as well in politics.In politics its the main road that is walked as for academical research its dicovering the borders.Well that would be so if this world was ideal, but academical research is very much related to politics as well as the funders are related to politics.Just as we are and therefor freethinkers are seldom.Arguementation is always influenced by aspects of society.To look at society you would have to place yourself outside it aswell as being part of it.If you do the same in discusions you look at the point at view instead of being it but still to defend a point of view you will also have to be it.Following this line of thought you could say; We need to have a high level of self reflection.

Edda said...

Unfortunately what we are taught is the others' arguments,how to adopt them not creating our own arguments. I utterly agree with Matt and wish that one day this will make part of our education system.

Stran_ger said...

I also think that it’s very important for everyone to learn how to argue. Probably this fact would lead to a better understanding of each other and stop some nonsense conflits. When you can't argue normaly you tend to be more violent as an expression of your opinion.

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