Home > Uncategorized > A discussion on utility/futility of discussions

A discussion on utility/futility of discussions

This is a continuation of my old post here.  I started that post as a discussion between an alien from an advanced civilization and a human. This post finds them discussing about the importance of dialogue to resolve conflicts.

Human (H): “Do you believe that issues can be resolved through dialogue? I feel that most dialogues end up badly because people are not willing to listen, they just wish to be heard.”

Alien Creature (C): “That is true about almost all discussions that happen between people. Dialogue between people alone can never solve problems, there will be ego clashes.

H: “So are dialogues between conflicting parties futile?”

C: “Most of the time.”

H: “Even in an advanced civilization like yours does a person’s ego dominate his reason.”

C: “No matter how advanced a civilization is, its people will always give more importance to their ego than the other person’s opinion. Ego is a person’s sense of who he is and in an argument if his ego is threatened he will defend it in whatever way he feels best. At times he will go against the general notion of reason too.”

H: “Oh then there seems no way that conflict can be resolved through dialogue.”

C: “No conflicts can be resolved through dialogue but it has to go beyond the arguments between the conflicting parties.”

H: “What else do you require to resolve a conflict?”

C: “The dialogue has to carried into the conflicting parties. In a conflict, if you have to see reason then you need to argue with your own self not with others. There is a process where you argue with yourself, question what is right and what is wrong. Here your ego does not rebel without reason but is actively involved in resolving the conflict through reason.”

H: “But for that to happen, you need to see both sides of the argument. That will not happen unless you put yourself in your opponents place and see things from his perspective.”

C: “Yes, in our culture we do argue among ourselves and defend our arguments very aggressively. However, we spend a larger amount of time in contemplation where we look at the evidence and look at it without any bias and make our conclusions. We have very few conflicts there on my planet.”

H: “But you do have conflicts.”

C: “We have our flaws, perfection is only an illusion.”

H: “Hmm, so what are you arguing about in your mind. I feel that you are distracted by something.”

C: “Human, I have had a pleasant time talking to you. I am feeling hungry now. Though it is painful to tell you this …”

H: “It is alright, I think it is late for me too, I will leave too. Where is your planet? How will you go there?”

C: “Human, I do not think you get my point. I am sorry to say this, but I have been talking to my lunch all this time. It feel sorry for you, but what can I do, I have to feed myself.”

H: “Ha Ha. I know you do not mean to eat me, I thought philosophers had no sense of humour. You do have it, a crooked one though.”

C: “Human, there is no humour in this, I never joke. Sorry again.”

It was too late for him to run now. He could now feel the alien’s tentacles around his body now, it had grasped him wherever it could. He could feel tentacles all over his body. He wanted to break free now and with a very strong effort he pushed the alien away from him.

“What are you doing, you fool, pushing me like that. Stop blabbering and get up, it is 8:50.”

“Oh Thank God, it is you. I thought you were an alien.”

“Alien! Is that a joke of some kind?.”

It was such a relief for him to know that he was alive and not eaten up by an alien, but then the dream felt so real. He used to wonder what would he do if he actually met an alien, he now felt that the best thing to do was to follow Mom’s advice given long back when he was a kid — ‘Never talk to strangers.’

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. ArunK
    August 5, 2010 at 5:23 am

    Congrats on taking up posting again. You said you hadn’t been doing it for some time. When you talk about the utility of discussions, I tend to think of our group discussions. They are not that useful i.t.s.t. we get barely anything done. But they are not completely futile either ’cause we do gain something in the form of doubts cleared and being exposed to new point of views… Also when you say our egos stand in the way of consensus or progress during a discussion I think you are talking about a kind of paltry sense of wanting to have our individual reason tower above all else. I think only immature, thoughtless people display that kind of behaviour. In fact I feel it can be a real boost to your ego if you’re able to see and accept another person’s ideas, because that’s a sign of maturity. So people who regard themselves highly, in a healthy, modest way always aid a discussion and also benefit from it. Like the human in your story. That discussion did go well- at least till the end.

    • Sudheer
      August 5, 2010 at 10:51 am

      I do feel what you say makes sense that it would be very immature to defend your point of view aggressively when you are not very sure about it. However, I feel that reasoning requires some amount of time, a person’s instinctive reaction in an argument would be to defend his opinion unless such an action causes him some harm. My point here is that you do need discussions but you also require serious contemplation for it to be useful.

      Yes, it has been some time since I posted and thanks for your thoughtful comment.

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