“Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.”
– John Milton
According to Milton: the desire to learn -> opinions -> knowledge. In order to arrive at knowing something, you have to make the leap to where you think you should stand on a subject. It seems more logical to get the knowledge first, then decide what your opinion should be. But Milton is right – once you have to defend your position, write it in words, and fight with others about it, you know its strengths and flaws much better. You might even change your opinion and start all over. Either way, you’ll know much more than you did before.
“As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.”
That’s Proverbs 27:17 in the Bible, and sums up how two people can clash and be better as a result of it. Sometimes we can be too afraid of arguing. Too afraid of opening a can of worms. We can go a little too post-modern, and feel we don’t ever have the right to think anyone else is wrong. Or just feel the natural worry that friendships will be hurt if we disagree on something. No one wants to lose friendships. And if it’s a fragile, sensitive sort of friendship, I agree you shouldn’t needless push the boundaries. But a real, robust friendship can handle even long, intense arguments. That is why I love the ability to argue with some of the people closest to me.
I’ve been frustrated with people who run from discussing important topics, and I’ve been that person who run from arguing. I’ve had opinions and been scared to examine them. I’ve been scared to voice them. But gathering up the courage to air opinions is essential for a writer, unless you want to be the anemic sort who never says anything worthwhile. And it’s equally essential to face the challenges to what you say. So if I want to be a writer – I’ll have to face that iron. Let’s hope I’ll end up on the “knowledge” side of the equation in the end.
What do you think – can you argue your way to knowledge?