Sunday, February 27, 2011

Jay Z and the Food Fighters

Jay Z said, "A wise man told me don't argue with fools, cause people from a distance can't tell who is who." I don't know who his source was, but that man was wise indeed. If you shout and scream with a fool long enough, no matter how intelligent you are, you will eventually look just as foolish as your opponent. Why? Well, it has something to the rules. The wise man and the fool use different rules.

Two wise men can argue at great length and, assuming those two men have enough respect for themselves, never resort to disrespecting their opposition in the argument. Many a world problem has been solved through a spirited argument. Consider the Socratic debate, for example. Two scholars, with opposing hypotheses, argue the contradictions in their ideas until what remains is a mutually agreed upon and more fundamentally sound hypothesis about the truth of a matter. The assumption in this method, though, is that both scholars will be wise enough to concede the truths that are illuminated by the opposing scholar. It takes a truly wise man to hear the truth from someone else. And thus, the Socratic method is rarely employed. Most folks can only hear the truth as told by......themselves.

Still, the idea of disagreement through debate or argument is always the same. One side has a truth that they hope to help the other side see. The passion with which one sees his truth sparks an argument. Nothing wrong with that, as long as both sides play by one rule: logic. In any argument there must be a set of parameters. These parameters set the boundaries with which one can make an argument. Mutual use of logic is why the Socratic method works with extremely intelligent people. (Ex. If we both agree that proposition A is true, then we surely must agree that B would also be true under conditions thus and so.....Oh good point, my wise friend. I had not thought of that. But, should B be true under said conditions, then would not C also be true under these....Why yes, sir. Well said....)

Here's the problem. A fool doesn't use logic. Fundamental truth goes out the window when you talk to a fool. That's why they call him a fool. This being the case, the fool can make arguments not based on the same parameters that most of us use to restrain our thoughts. (Ex. I think you were wrong just then....Why...Because the sky is blue and trees have leaves on them and so clearly you were wrong.) And in order to counter an argument not bound by logic in any way, one must usually resort to.....well, foolishness. Its kinda like being in a food fight. You either throw food or duck and hope for the best. There is no real way to win. And that's what Jay Z' pal was trying to tell him. You can't win. If you look in on a food fight, can you see who started it? Can you tell who is using the veggies and who throws junk food? Nope. Its a food fight. If you're in it, you just look bad.

One of my favorite books says, "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself." In other words, when the fool throws food, don't throw it back or you're a fool too. I know this to be true. I really do. But I get hit with enough jello, and that pile of mashed potatoes starts to look an awful lot like ammunition. Does that make me the wise man or the fool? I suppose that's debatable.

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