I was reading articles and posts about philosophical debates, today, too. All of the writings were by men arguing with other men.
Does it occur to us that what passes for "debates" is, too often, one side trying to win vs. another? I.e., the debate's goal seems not pursuing greater truth or exhibiting the "love of wisdom" (philo-sophia), but rather one intellect's victory over another's, one's worldview over another's. The raised arms of victory over another view's "foolishness" crown the conclusion.
Proverbs 27:17 states, "Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another." (NRSV)
In the NLT, "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend."
The Tanakh translation is a more literal translation, "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the wit of his friend."
The problem I have with many debates is the goal of victory and triumph over any others. Isn't this simply another perverse form of proselytization by academic or philosophical warfare?
Be a Christian! No, be an Atheist! To be religious means you're an idiot. To be a non-believer means you're going to hell! Religion is anti-intellect, anti-logic, and anti-mind. Atheism is anti-god, anti-believer, and anti-order.To return to the metaphor my daughter pulled out of the drawer...
Anyone who has sharpened a knife by hand realized that if our angle of sharpening is too high, we dull the blade rather than sharpen it. The knife sharpening experts recommend 15/20 degree beveled angles. In other words, the stone or sharpening steel is more alongside the knife than against it. It is counterproductive to confront the knife edge with a harsher angle. The Hebrew isn't impersonal; the one sharpening the wit of another is a companion or friend. In the context of wisdom literature, "love of wisdom" isn't a love of abstract, detached knowledge and logic but love of wise and thoughtful living in the companionship of fellow humans.
So, to those who love debating, may we examine the product of those arguments! Do you gain or lose friends of differing views? (We all know that gathering people of views similar to ours is the norm!) Do we fail at relating well to the person, or do we gain both increasing insight and relationships that last?
Finally, to make a comment on what may have seemed the "coincidence" of men's debates, may I offer another look at the infamous text most frequently cited vs. women?
1 Timothy 2:8, in my opinion, begins a discussion of negative gender paradigms in that culture. Paul began with the men, "I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument..." The Greek word for argument, dialogismos, has the meaning of a "verbal exchange that takes place when conflicting ideas are expressed, dispute, argument." (BDAG)
I've been around enough discussion boards to recognize that the disputes are most frequently dominated by men. There are some women in the fray, but many have told me in "asides" that they are quiet because they don't want to get beaten up in the "discussions."
Guys, please tell me. Is that a coincidence? Or, would you recognize Paul's admonition as countering a particularly male penchant for warfare - whatever the battlefield?
I love wisdom. I find philosophy intriguing, inspiring and provocative, at its best. But, the warfare, folks, the warfare has gotta go. Telling others they're stupid or hell-bent won't win them to your logic, but it may serve to beat them down into submission to your god. (That god isn't mine.) However, loving them and walking alongside them may build up and encourage them in wisdom.