Pragmatic | Debate, ideas, trees and forest

Teasing the hidden truth out of common-place observations

Yesterday, good friend and lapsed blogger @Primary_Red wrote a blogpost on the framework of a debate. He says that while most debates get caught in the arguments at human and institutional layers, the only layer which matters is the one of ideas. Here is the crux of his argument:

There was a lot of human suffering and institutional failure in Ashoka slaughtering Kalinga. Today, his Chakra is India’s national emblem. Not to diminish anyone’ suffering, but we don’t remember the names of those who died at his sword. We remember his embrace of Buddhism as a consequence. In the end, this big idea is all that mattered.

I believe that some ideas are better than others and, in time, they always prevail.

In my eyes, there are no better political ideas than secular democracy and free markets. All other ideas have had their moment in the sun, and they have always come up short. Always.

Regardless of how I feel at the human and institutional levels, ultimately the only question that really matters for me is this:

Will my argument advance secular democracy and free markets or set these winning ideas back?[SRI]

Read the complete post here.

Many of you will turn around and say what’s the big deal in what he is saying here. It is so blindingly obvious. Perhaps that is true. But Nicholas G Carr captures the bit about obvious explanation best.

The most memorable explanations strike us as alarmingly obvious. They take commonplace observations—things we’ve all experienced—and tease the hidden truth out of them. Most of us go through life bumping into trees. It takes a great explainer… to tell us we’re in a forest.[Edge]

That is precisely what @Primary_Red does. When you next make an argument or hear one, pause and think: Will my argument advance secular democracy and free markets or set these winning ideas back?


DISCLAIMER: This is an archived post from the Indian National Interest blogroll. Views expressed are those of the blogger's and do not represent The Takshashila Institution’s view.