The Devaluation of True Argument

Robert Hinkle
4 min readMay 4, 2021

An Essay on Human Progress

Photo by Julien Moreau on Unsplash

Through true argument, humanity moves forward.

What is the Problem?

There is no person who understands another. Some try to understand and some absolutely do not. Not understanding the other has always been a hindrance to human progression. However, it is not disagreement feeding the inability to move forward, in actuality, disagreement moves society forward.

The human’s contentedness to mischaracterize the other is the plague that keeps society stagnant.

Even more so, it is the human’s contentedness to mischaracterize the very system or narrative in which they claim to invoke that plagues the progress of humankind. This mischaracterization of narratives by the people that align with said narrative creates meta-narratives that are truer than the narrative from which the meta-narrative came and they are truer because they exist as a concept in the minds of more people claiming the original narrative than those that actually understand and adhere to the original narrative.

This leads to those aligned with opposing narratives (more likely, the meta-narratives of the opposing narrative) to dispute the original meta-narrative rather than the narrative from which the meta-narrative came. Why shouldn’t the meta-narrative be disputed if the meta-narrative is more real than the narrative from which it came? If the originators of post-modernism say post-modernism is ‘so and so’ and fifty years later, the mass majority says post-modernism means ‘so and so prime’ then which narrative, or meta-narrative (‘so and so prime,’) is more necessary to dispute? The narrative — or meta-narrative — that is more real, as in the one that exists the most in the minds of the narrative’s adherents.

It is the narrative which is most believed, namely the meta-narrative, that is acted out in society and has the greatest effect on said society and, therefore, should be argued against to display said narrative’s flaws.

From two opposing meta-narratives, argument occurs.

Yet, the opposer is not free from creating a caricature of the other but it is out of the other’s accepted mischaracterization that the opposer creates a caricature of the other for themself.

Therefore the original argument (A) has now been mischaracterized by its own as argument (A’) where as opposing argument (B) has been mischaracterized by its own as (B’) and arguer of (B’) creates a caricature out of (A’)to create (A’’)and arguer of (A’) creates a caricature out of (B’)to create (B’’) which leaves (A’’) to be put against (B’) (Where (B’) is obviously superior) and (B’’)to be put against (A’) (Where (A’) is obviously superior). It seems utterly ignorant, yet this is what happens in argument.

This is a technical philosophy that is hard to understand in these terms (especially if one is not technically minded like myself,) so to be more plain:

  1. The original argument is put forth. (Original)
  2. A majority comes along and accepts the argument as their own, but they don’t take the time to understand it and instead put forth a different philosophy under the same name. (Bandwagon)
  3. Without understanding either the original argument or the bandwagon argument, those claiming to oppose the argument only oppose a caricature of either/both (1) & (2). (Straw-man)

And this happens on both sides of an argument and, without addressing the phenomenon, true argument cannot happen. Babies are being thrown out with the bathwater and babies are being thrown out *instead* of the bath water.

What is the way forward?

Humans are ambivalent and prone to characterize themselves as virtuous while creating a caricature of the other that is evil. To believe that one’s self has only good intentions while their opponent is evil creates a caricature of the other that justifies their swift invalidation of said other. This demonizing between peoples makes for an opaque dividing wall allowing no light to go through either side and makes a stagnant - worse, regressive - society.

The only way forward is a functional understanding. Partly, admitting that we do not fully understand each other but we will still humbly proceed to try. We will analyze the original argument and the bandwagon argument, and we will refuse to create straw men. We will put forth our best response, so our opposers can make their argument stronger. When they grow stronger, we grow stronger too. If we can all agree that human progress is the goal, maybe then we’ll realize we’re on the same team.

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Robert Hinkle

Imagination is a powerful thing. On Twitter and Instagram @hinkle3_trey. Writing more frequently on Substack: treyhinkle.substack.com