Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Human understanding.

Introductory philosophy 2) Empathy is the greatest component of debate.

Theists and Atheists have a tendency to argue. Whilst they have a lot in common, there are several fundamental differences which creates a barrier between the two sides.

A specific example might be the use of the word "Faith".
Theists use it to mean a different thing than an Atheist.

That's fine. You don't have to necessarily use the same terminology, or you might disagree over the "true" meaning of the word.

What is idiotic, is the way define their opponent's word for them. "What you mean is......".
You are no wiser, your opponent isn't swayed. You made yourself feel good with a PR trick and fooled yourself into thinking you've won.

"My cat climbs trees"
"What you mean by cat is a gray thing with flippers. Cats cannot climb trees."
"Yes they can......"
"How can they hold on with the flippers?"
"I call that thing a Dolphin.... what I mean by cat is..."
"Shut up! I use the correct terminology so that's what you must have meant."

You can have the same conversation with the word Dolphin and Cat swapped. The point is not who is correctly using the words. The point of empathy is determining what your opponent means, not necessarily what he is saying.

In the case of faith, I have never come across a regular theist who does not apply the word faith in a different way to how every atheist I have ever met defines it. Furthermore, they enforce that definition on others.

That's why theists say atheists have faith(type 1).
That's why atheists take great offense and deny having faith(type 2).

That however is not the point of this post. This post is to say, pay attention to what your opponent is saying. Pay attention to how he is using the words. Figure out what they mean. Then go about the argument using *their* definition, or concede that you misunderstood what they meant.

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