Why do people argue? Ideally, argument is merely of fruitful exchanges of ideas, information and of reviling the truth/untruth. Yet inevitable, the art of truth-seeking has been mixed with the art of persuasion indistinguishably, and the failure to differ these two has resulted a confusion among most people.
In my opinion, here are the differences:
The art of persuasion is partial because one needs to choose one side over the other and is about winning/selling one’s point. The art of truth-seeking, on the other hard, is impartial because the conclusion will not be drawn before carefully weighing all the available, different evidences/views, and so it is not about winning or losing.
The cause – our human nature.
We are naturally rehetoric and so like to win. Who does not? Our physical bodies even produce certain chemicals to have natural high – the thrill of winning.
We are egocentric. Our ideas are as extensions of ourselves. Few can willingly, carefully listen to what others say and understand their ideas to a point that others think their ideas have been accurately described and understood. When one’s conception of reality is challenged, the person loses the ground which bases his/her life in.
We fear the unknown, which includes what we do not understand. It seems to be safer surrounding what is known and what is familiar.
We resist to change. (Even if the unknown has become the known.) We prefer everything stays the same because ANY change brings discomfort.
However, we are forced to be persuasive in order to survive in this competitive world, which is all about selling/proving ourselves – our abilities, our ideas. Yet it seems to me a virtue to separate rhetoric (persuasion) from reasoning (truth-seeking) to begin and combine them at the end so that we can not only be persuasive but at the same time be truthful. That is, the truth may not be the victim of the argument.
Death of Socrates by Jacques David
I still like what Abraham Lincoln once said, "I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong."
(This one is a bit serious and difficult)