Monday, October 19, 2009


A 'polemic' is the term we use for any kind of argument that has a very strong stance on any particular issue that is being debated. Naturally, there is a place for polemics, because some things are right and others are wrong; and polemics help us to figure out the difference. But there is a dark side to polemics ...

Polemical reasoning encourages people to be hard-headed at the beginning of an argument and utterly immovable by the end. If a person thinks he is right at the beginning of an argument, he will be even more convinced of his rightness by the end of it. And if two people argue with this same stubborn attitude, the result is relational disconnection, where everyone is talking but no one is listening. In fact, the Greek word from which we get the English polemic is the word polemos. Polemos means 'war'. 

While there are other possible ways of arguing (through paradoxical or metaxological reasoning, for instance), the point I want to make here is far simpler: it is only by listening that we find the truth. It is only by asking questions that reality is opened up to us. Merely hammering across a one-sided view of everything in our world will probably end up making us very one-dimensional people. 

1 comment:

  1. Something I have been pondering about recently...due to circumstances or things said and people I have met...the more I think about it the more I realise there is no place in this world for dogmatism or legalism, because there is too much grey in life. Even within Absolute Truth there is grey. I believe there are certain things (values and faith) in which we need to be consistent and other things with which we need to have a dynamic view about. And that perhaps we will sway to different extremes between the grey and the black and white through different stages of our lives, and i dont think that is necessarily a bad thing. I guess it is up to each of us to figure out where within the grey we fit and to constantly be willing to listen...for that is the wise thing to do (in Proverbs somewhere). So I think what I'm trying to say is that as God is both Constant and we also need to be. I have no idea if i have made any sense :)