Via ut Verum: the Method of Debate & Arrival at Ideal Reality

I – Power: a Cause of Conflict

            It has come to my attention that today the structure of debate has nigh disappeared; however, it is commonly practiced in the political arena. Outside of that influence, though, it is vague, if not rarely followed vigorously. Today the majority of humanity’s individuals feel the need to convince everyone else that their beliefs are the only ones that should be followed, that everyone else’s are wrong, or superfluous to what they hold to be the truth. The impulse of power, or the urge to control, is hard to break and is the cause of many political and international frustrations – not only between one country and another, but between the individual citizens of each country itself.

            Attempts to quell this urge, to end the impulse, has led to the rise of some of the most prominent, good willed, and dangerous political systems on both ends of the spectrum, from Totalitarianism to Democracy and all the others in between. Ending the urge had been one of the causes that gave rise to religion as well as some of history’s and today’s greatest and tyrannical leaders. Christianity and Islam; Jesus and Moa Tse Tung.

            Perhaps the impulse of power is a natural feature in all human beings as can be accounted for within the Bible (God giving men dominion over the earth) and demonstrated by the way civilization had been created (though there are many theories as to that end, let it be sufficient to have stated that it had risen and leave it at that for it is not the topic of discussion). Men had been controlled by other men and it’s still that way today, despite the attempts of the American Democracy to keep its citizens free and liberated if only to an extent. But the question as to mankind’s freedom is not the topic of this paper and should be left for the individualists and the collectivists to argue over, but let us stress and formulate “how” they should argue.

            There have been many individuals who had strove for the ultimate power over many different things, but because there were always others who wished the same there was always conflict. This conflict not only starts war and violence and separate belief systems, but also the topic of this paper: Argumentation. Power is a common denominator between differing views and systems, and arguing has become the only way to end disputes between these, but it usually ends with the demolition of the losing side; Socrates’ philosophical victory had been the downfall of Sophists in Ancient Greece.

            But this doesn’t mean that the losing side is always the one whose conclusions are genuinely true. If they were then there wouldn’t be Totalitarianism, Communism, Moa Tse Tung, Stalin, Lenin, Caligula, Nero, Herod, ect… For every proposition there is that which is good and that which is evil. Between every system of power, every belief and ideology, there are differences, and it is because there are differences that there are arguments.

II – Diversity: another Cause

            Wherever there is a yin there is a yang. All throughout the universe there are separations of lightness and darkness; there are differences in temperature and between the size of one object and another. Descartes said that there was a separation between the material and the spiritual (dualism). God separated the night from the day. Wherever one looks there can be found diversity between many different things, both rationally (within your mind) and empirically (throughout experience). There are differences between political structures, groups of people, beliefs, and even the prices of your favorite cereal at one store compared to the prices at another. It can be said that it is impossible for there not to be diversity everywhere.

            But for every number of yins there are a number of yangs. There may not be an equal quantity of each, but there are numerous amounts of them. Some things that are different can share similarities and things that are the same can share differences. Where one thing does this and not that the other does that and not this.  There are many different things that cannot be compared yet can make up for the others’ loss. For example: science helps explain how the universe works materially, but cannot help someone spiritually; religion helps explain morals and the spiritual, but cannot explain the laws of nature as well as science can. As you can see, there may be differences between many things, but there is room for the dialectic. One can compare and contrast two, or more, things and come to an open-minded conclusion dialectically, arriving at an understanding of each despite the individual differences.

            This is all fine and dandy, but so far I have only vaguely described what kinds of “things” have differences. I have mentioned night and day, prices of cereal, science and religion, the material and the spiritual, and so on, but I had glossed over them lightly as any slightly uncaring individual would do as he/she lived his/her life. When the human mind comes into play and starts to observe these similarities and differences between things there comes something that is altogether very complex: opinion, interpretation, belief, ideals, propositions, theses, analyses, premises, conclusions, ect… To the individual, they live by their conclusions, beliefs, and the like. They create who we are and they exist because we exist. Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am”; where thought can confirm our existence our existence can confirm its.

            Every individual in the world, every self-conscious mind in the universe, has his/her own system of belief, or a set of opinions they live by, dictating their decisions; who they are friends with, who they fall in love with, what religion they are (if they are apart of one at all), who they put their trust in, whether they wish to raise a family, and on and on. Every aspect of one’s life can be boiled down to what they believe, to what system they follow – whether it be their own way of life, or one set down by others. It is a fact that one’s beliefs can be influenced by those of another, one’s life controlled by someone else’s; religion and science are two examples, as are Democracy and Communism. For every country there are those whose lives are controlled by the belief system of “one” individual, whether living or dead doesn’t matter. Socialism can be traced to whatever political and ethical philosopher had created the ideals the political system follows. Whoever it was is certainly long dead. The same can be said for all other governments; Democratic, Communist, Monarchial, Parliamentary… No matter what system, or belief, it can only exist if one person formulates it, and there are always those that are willing to believe in it, no matter how crazy, maniacal, or impossible it is.

            Though there are many dissimilar systems of belief there can only be a finite number of them on our planet, and so when the universe as a whole is considered (when the immensity it possesses comes into focus) one may consider that there really aren’t that many beliefs. As massive as the earth is, when the universe sets its cards on the table, the Big Picture shrinks to a manageable size one can work with. One can label these types and those types of people, the people over here can be characterized and be differentiated from the people over there, until you have all the systems of belief lined up and organized. Once you do this you can see that though there are drastic differences between the many different belief systems there is, nonetheless, order from out of the chaos. Though there is strife there is also peace.

            Imagine if every individual on the planet could not be swayed by the ideals of every other individual (a consequence of individualism). Think of how chaotic that would be. There would be no countries, no religion, no scientific compatibility, no universally accepted truth, possibly no society. No one would get along, people would get murdered, battered, betrayed, and so on. If one can think of chaos on earth one can probably come to the same conclusion everyone else would. This gives every individual one ultimate similarity out of many that cannot be broken.         

            This ultimately means that there is hope for a greater order while still maintaining the chaos that comes with separate ideals, but it is, nevertheless, a start to greater order. Democracy is one attempt at this type of order, one in which all are accepted, no matter who you are, what you believe, or who you hang out with. But Democracy does have its flaws, as is attested by Plato in his famous dialogue The Republic.

            There is a direct link between argumentation, the impulse of power, and the existence of diversity. There can be an argument because one strives for a degree of power that another does also, and because these individuals, or groups, believe that their way is the only way. It is when these two, or many, ideals butt against one another that there is argumentation; however, it does not mean that there is chaos within the argumentation for there are methods to discussion (one of which is commonly used) that smooth the whole process down to a manageable status (the Socratic Method). Though there are already commonly used methods of argumentation, it is the object of this paper to present, or propose, yet another that, in some ways, is similar to the Socratic Method.

III – The Conclusionistic Method

            The aim of an argument is ultimately to prove who is right, to find which truth is true. Rather, it is the test to see which truth can overpower the other, or others, ideally in an un-bloody fashion, through the exchange of reasoning, evidence, and criticisms, eventually coming to a conclusion. But if a true truth is indisputably caused by the nature of that which is good, a truth caused by the nature of that which is evil should necessarily not be a true truth but a deception to what is actually true and good (even if we do not know, or do not believe,  it to be a true truth). If the nature of good and evil, as we assume it to be, is in fact the way it really is, then wouldn’t good triumph in all arguments over evil every time? The answer to this is “no” because humanity possesses free will.

            Every individual on the planet has the natural right to believe in what he/she wishes to be the true truth. Because there can be numerous amounts of proposed truths there is the inevitability that there will be differences and similarities between them all, whether they promote good or evil; and with these differences comes the platform, the spark, for the lure of control over others, or the impulse of power, and after that comes argumentation.

            However the end is met, there are many different methods to reaching it, whether one wins, or loses. One of the most famous methods of argument is the Socratic Method. Though these methods of argument are very precise there is yet room for improvement in the mode. The method of argument in which I propose can be known as the Conclusionistic Method.

            Conclusionism can be defined as the belief that, through its proposed method, a group of likeminded individuals of opposing beliefs can come to a conclusion that is the true truth (truth caused by the nature of good) by maintaining tolerance toward others’ beliefs and open-mindedness to change in one’s own.

            The method of Conclusionism is as follows

  1. A statement is presented by an individual, or a group of likeminded individuals.
  2. Before any negative or critical analyses are counter-presented, all those in favor come to an ultimate conclusion, presenting all possible reasoning and evidence that supports the statement. This way there is a substantial amount of support that those in favor of the statement can defend it with.
  3. Then those of opposition may present their criticisms and proposed fragments of the statement’s logic, further elaborating with their own series of reasoning and evidence that are against it. Once those of opposition have come to a reasonable conclusion on the original statement the following occurs…
  4. Whence both positive and negative conclusions have been finalized the dialectic is then pursued. Both sides compare and contrast each others’, or analyze the differences and similarities between each conclusion. Both sides of the debate form a group whose ultimate goal must be to reach an overall agreement, otherwise there would be no end (as can happen in the Socratic Method). Together the opposing and favoring gradually fill in the gaps between each conclusion until they reach, or patch together, one final conclusion that cannot be disproved by both sides’ own logic, thus presenting at the end of all discourse what might utterly be the true truth.

 

            Ultimately, the purpose of this method is to create a fair environment for all individuals of every collective system of belief (for every country, religion, ideals, ect…). It is the grand design of the Conclusionistic Method to bring about temorary tolerance and the completion of the quest for truth, an arrival at the state where all conclusions cannot be disproved by any opposing criticism. If there are yet still more criticisms once this state of utter truth has been reached they must certainly be proposed truths that are caused by evil and would not hold credence in any final form of reasoning.

            However, there is a fragment to this design that should be addressed: is it ethical to tolerate evil?

IV – The Extent of Tolerance

            For every individual there are many degrees of tolerance and intolerance; one person will allow themselves to eat healthy food and strongly abstain from junk food. In this manner tolerance has a limited sense when one observes its definition, but is it possible to tolerate everything? The answer is “no”. Let us again use the example of the individual who apparently eats healthy food and not junk food. If he/she tolerated both types of food in any amount of excess he/she would nonetheless enjoy the many different tastes, but it would defeat the individual’s purpose of staying healthy; he/she would reach a grey, primordial state of health being the end result.

            But food generally isn’t good, or bad. In fact there are many things in this universe that possess a grey nature, a nature both good and evil, such as humanity, but such a nature has a slippery slope and things of this nature tend to eventually fall on either side. It is impossible to constantly be neutral, to tolerate, everything for that very nature would not be a good thing, and it would suggest that there can never be a true truth and that all truths are true. Therefore, if this nature is not good then it must be evil. This means that there must always be a separation between the two. There is no middle ground.

            Therefore, one cannot tolerate everything. One can either tolerate good and not evil and another evil and not good, further establishing one’s nature.

            But a problem arises… Though we have an idea of what is good and what is evil there is still debate as to what is truly good and truly evil, there is no certain conclusion at the present. This means that there is room for a toleration of everything. Because there is no definite conclusion on what is good or evil it actually “is” possible to tolerate everything until that end is met (and it is the Conclusionistic Method that can provide for that end); meaning that humanity is presently in a grey, primordial state which we cannot escape unless the proposed method is used to come to the true truth and that it is our aim as human beings to reach this end, to come to a conclusion and separate what is good from what is evil and to act on whichever nature we choose.

            Only in the moment when that end is reached will there be actual tolerance, acceptance of one thing versus another and in this state of perpetual and undoubted truth will come an ideal reality where those whose nature is good will keep and defend the true meaning of that nature from those whose nature is evil. It is this end which Conclusionism strives and provides for with its method.

V – The Cost of Ideal Reality

            If at all an ideal reality can be reached, what would be the price of such a feat?

            These days the majority of humanity feels the need to establish the final conclusion that individuality is the most important thing, that everyone must maintain neutral tolerance of both good and evil (even though many would say everyone was not). As had been said it is not a good thing to be neutral in nature for then not only would you support all that is good but also all that is evil. Any support for evil, no matter to what degree, is utterly evil in nature. It is a way for evil to leak in greater amounts into the consciousness of humanity. Yet there is hopeful side to all this.

            Though Democracy provides for the individual (as it ultimately should) there are many other countries that do not. In other countries an aristocracy arises and the wants of a few become the laws all must follow. Parliament, Communism, Socialism, Totalitarianism; all these have only the impulse of power as their guide, but that power doesn’t extend to the masses, rather to the few who deem themselves those that know everything (reason themselves gods). But in a Democracy the selfish impulse is still present because the power is given to the masses who, when presented with a certain choice, choose one side or the other, further maintaining their individuality. The choice ultimately is proposed by a single individual who looks to the masses as his/her ticket to control and knows that if he/she has support from the many he/she may achieve that control whether the masses know it or not. A choice presented may not always be for a good end and can, therefore, also be for an evil end; sometimes the choices are between good or evil and one degree of evil or another (but in all it is still evil). It is in a Democracy where the impulse of power is replaced by the selfish impulse.

            Because humanity is in a confused, grey state of knowledge it is rare that any good choice is made within a Democracy. Granted, it does provide for its constituents, but “what” it provides for them is what they all want as a majority. Though there are minority rights the laws the majority chooses must apply to them because they are held to be law. In a Democracy all support (or are forced to support) the decisions of the majority, meaning that all the citizens must support selfish impulses. It is in a Democracy where the neutral is enforced, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that evil is the overall rule.

            In no way is Democracy inherently evil to any large extent. In actuality it is the main platform that provides for the Conclusionistic Method to exist. Without its neutrality true truth cannot be pursued through the method and therefore humanity would still be prone to acts of evil than to acts of good under the selfish impulse Democracy unknowingly possesses.

            But Democracy can only last so long as humanity is confused as to what is truly true. Eventually, if at all we come to a universal conclusion that is the true truth, it will have no relevance left. The needs of humanity will be dictated by the true truth, by what is truly good in nature, and every degree of evil will be rooted out like weeds and cast into the compost. Evil’s history will then be used as a nutrient to maintain the health of goodness, meaning that the chaos caused by evil will be used as an example for all to keep away from it.

            Therefore, one price of this ideal reality is the end of Democracy.

            But if Democracy ends will individuality as well? Technically, no. Though there would be knowledge of what is truly good there would also be knowledge of what is truly evil, and knowing the effects of each one could lead to a curiosity of how both compare to one another, further exposing an individual to each if experiment were conducted. Considering this one can see that it is this freedom to act on good or evil that causes the world to be the way it was and the way it is today.

            Therefore, in order to defend what is good and maintain ideal reality individuality must be curbed. This is caused by the defense of goodness. To maintain ideal reality all that know goodness and act accordingly must punish those who act under wickedness, but not by harming or killing them because that very act would itself be evil. Instead the harm can only be done by the acts of the wicked. They would have to be put into seclusion from society, this being the sufficient defense against evil. A prison would need to be kept where those who always act according to goodness would work as the keepers to every cell. This would be where the wicked dwell, where the harm done by their own actions would help teach them why good nature is better and superior to their selfishness.

            Such is the price of the ideal reality.

VI – The Conclusion

            But in no way are we, at the present, ready to attempt to maintain such a reality for, as has been stated, humanity is confused as to what is truly good and truly evil. Such attempts to bring about this reality have resulted in tyrannies throughout history; and because of those attempts we now have Communism, Socialism, Totalitarianism, and the like (surely these things are evil). This ideal reality cannot be reached unless what is truly true is known by all the earth’s inhabitants. It is the purpose of this paper to suggest a belief that this true truth can be known and that this belief’s proposed method can be used to reach that knowledge.

            It has been said, “One can have too much of a good thing.” This means that it can be bad to have too much good. This statement has much relevance at the present time because it preys upon our current primordial state of knowledge. However, if at all this statement is used as criticism against the nature of the said ideal reality to those I will say: “If you are using this statement as opposition to ideal reality, to the arrival at true goodness, then you are most likely to be evil in nature and that you support wickedness, or the confusion of humanity. Tell me what is better: ignorance or knowledge of goodness?”

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