Dec
16
2009

The Form IS the Argument

I don’t spend a lot of time engaging people in arguments about statism or religion because I usually don’t enjoy myself very much. I get tense, irritated, annoyed, my voice starts to rise in volume (and sometimes in pitch)… I will usually disengage, but by this time, the damage has already been done.

I see it happening to a lot of other people, too. I will see a debate on a forum or in a chat room and wonder, are these people really enjoying themselves?

In a recent therapy session, my therapist was guiding me through some body work (somatic awareness) and, during this, she mentioned that we will get to the content another time; right now, we’re going to focus on the body.

It struck me that the content is so often what we focus on, and that it is the form we most often ignore. I said that it made so much sense, that to first ensure that the form is sound is fundamentally philosophical, scientific… she offered, “Real.”

The form–the body–tells you volumes about the argument without ever having to look at the content.

It’s not that the content is unimportant, but it is very helpful to keep in mind that content is essentially nonmaterial. The content hangs on the form, and if the form is unsound–not conforming to reality–then examining the content without paying any mind to the form is as useful as painting over a water stain without fixing the roof.

In actuality, it is impossible to improve the content without a sound form.

The average person in the world today will engage you on content (you certainly don’t see anyone examining forms in any mass media outlet). If you attempt to bring up a structural flaw in our society (taxation is theft), the vast majority of people will ask you how such-and-such a service will be provided without taxation (or better, how it will happen in “your world”).

Don’t be fooled! It might not be intentional on their part, but these responses serve to distract from the core issue–the form of the argument.

Just like slavery wasn’t about cotton distribution, taxation is not about educating children or building roads or protecting consumers. Understand that the form of the argument IS the argument, at least in our society as it exists today.

Written by James Pyrich in: Philosophy |

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