Arguing with the less sophisticated

I always find it difficult to argue with the less sophisticated. Since I see things in a more complex way than they do and my understanding may be beyond their comprehension, they rarely argue in my terms for the simple reason that they are not capable of doing so. In order to go on with the argument, I have to argue in their terms. However, expressing my points in their terms is not easy, if possible at all. And on top of this disadvantage, I may have to, when the less sophisticated have lost the debate, show them how they have lost it.


  1. I feel the same...
    It's even more difficult and exhausting than arguing with a highly critical (reasonable) person.

  2. sighhhh ... i am disappointed ...

    i thought as a teacher, you should not be saying anything like this ...

    on the one hand, you are sidestepping others as less sophisticated ... and on the other hand, you are labeling yourself as complex, giving yourself a golden image ...

    what a teacher, what a prof !!!

  3. //on the one hand, you are sidestepping others as less sophisticated ... and on the other hand, you are labeling yourself as complex, giving yourself a golden image ... //

    - Oh please, give me a break! However, given the truth of what I have said in my post, I had better not argue with you.

    (I suspect you are one of those readers of my Chinese blog who try to attack me whenever they think they have got a chance.)

  4. i have no intention whatsoever to argue with you ... and least of all, why would i want to "attack" you ??? ... i don't know you and you don't know me, what good does it do and bring to me to "attack" you !!!

    i know you are expressing a feeling here ... and i would say such feeling is totally human and reasonable -- for the "sophisticated" mind, why wouldn't it feel frustrated and exhausted and time wasting to argue, to debate, or maybe even just to talk, with a "dumb" mind ???

    but maybe i hold you in high esteem (yes, i do, after seeing you so many articles) so i expect a higher standard from you ...

    that is why i said disappointed 'cause i expect more from a good teacher who does have the ability to educate and teach the "dumb" mind ..

    and it is you that i think could be that good teacher ...

    i ain't wanna "attack" you ... neither do i want to shoe-shine you .. .

    you expressed a feeling here and so did i ...

    bottom line is : you can do a lot better but i ain't see it here in this post ..

    so, no need to argue with me ... for the same reason, i think i ain't see no need to respond to heiman's post ...

  5. You already said this feeling is totally human and reasonable. So do you mean teachers are not human beings, so it is not reasonable nor acceptable for them to have this feeling? Or do you think a teacher should hide their negative human feelings and should not express them at all?

  6. "... casting your pearls before swine?"

    What arrogance! What intellectual arrogance!

    You should be ashamed. I suggest you delete this listing before you shame yourself further.

  7. I was being earnest. Why should I feel ashamed?

  8. The fact that you were being earnest is what makes this truly sad. Your shame has to do with the meaning of 'arrogance'. This involves "an offensive display of superiority or self-importance." Arrogance is a vice, and intellectual arrogance is the vice to which some educators are particularly prone. It is the vice that you have displayed throughout this entry. It involves a violation of the principle of respect for persons.

    Now see what you have done, you have forced me explain to someone who is "less sophisticated" exactly how he has lost the debate. ("Do you have eyes, but fail to see, and ears, but fail to hear?")

  9. This entry was an earnest expression of frustration, not a "display of superiority or self-importance". My guess is you are someone who knows me personally and who already sees me as an arrogant person --- you are reading your perception of (or should I say bias against) me into this entry.

    Did you notice the first comment above? For you that must be another intellectually arrogant person...

  10. This will be my last posting on this topic. Since you are caused frustration by having to deal with the less sophisticated, perhaps you should have chosen a career in which you would not have to encounter quite so many.

  11. Oh, so you think my students are the less sophisticated? The truth is, when I wrote this entry, I wasn't thinking of my students at all! What I had in mind were some of the people with whom I argued about religion and politics.

    Just this morning I told my students what I said in this entry, and asked them whether they felt the same way when they argued with people with no philosophical training. Almost all of them said Yes.

    Can I infer from your comments above that you think they are not sophisticated and arrogant?

    Benjamin Haydon says, "Fortunately for serious minds, a bias recognized is a bias sterilized." I hope he's right.

  12. Dr. Wong,

    You responded gracefully. I don't think you're arrogant at all.

    One of your students