Debating debate

Protagoras lived before debate was invented, so he invented it. In Greece. He did this while he was wondering whether virtue could be taught; but never figured that out. What he did figure out was that words are powerful and they function powerfully when used by people talking about two sides of an issue. He didn’t call it debate. He called it wrestling.

He saw intellects grappling through the metaphor of wrestling and wrote a book  The Technique of Eristics (“On wrestling”) to teach argument to other folks.

Upcoming election debates may not have the advantage of true wrestling, in which the winner is the person who makes the most convincing argument. Not what he looks like. Not how nervous he is. Not how much we like his manners, but which argument is the stronger.

One thing the debates likely will accomplish is spawn argument about WHO won, which suggests we still have a lot to learn about debate.

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About Mrs. Fitz

Hello! I'm Michele Fitzpatrick, a Chicago writer. Like our town, a work in progress. As a journalist, teacher and writing coach I think all of us live our stories and sharing them creates moments that remind us we're connected. And that is enough.
This entry was posted in Chicago, election, speech and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Debating debate

  1. Charlie says:

    This is really smart. You’re really artful with your words!

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