DO OPINIONS MATTER?
WHY? HOW? WHEN?
A friend and I, it turned out, had widely different opinions on Obama. He thought Obama was naive. I thought Obama was evil. My friend agreed Obama was anti-American, but thought that did not make him evil, just unsuited to be president of the United States.
Now that's an interesting idea - because of course it's not inherently evil to be against the government you're supposed to be for. Just think: you could be against Stalinist Russia, while being supposedly for it.
I could continue in this way, back and forth, with: who has the better opinion? why? how?
I've come to other thoughts:
when do opinions matter, and are there times when they don't matter?
also what are some productive ways of dealing with differences of opinions?
In this case, neither my friend nor I lives in the States, or has American citizenship.
So our opinions don't, for instance, affect any votes.
I'm remembering a powerful novel, I Claudius, on a Roman emperor. How much, in that novel, is in accordance with what is known about Claudius, how much is educated guess, how much is conjecture? I know so little about Roman history that I don't have even a guess as to the answer. But even if I did have a guess or even an opinion, would it matter? If so, in what way?
And then, the other question:
How do we deal well with these things called opinions?
In my family the thing was to whack them at each other like rocks.
Emotions became heated.
No opinions were changed.
When the opinions were trotted out again at some future time, the old scenario was repeated. Whack. Whack. Whack.
It didn't matter, by the way, which opinions had more validity, which were backed by facts.
One thing is to explore - especially if both people are open to exploring.
What does your opinion mean? What does it mean to you to hold that Obama is naive? From what I hear it makes him less responsible for what he says than if he were knowingly deceiving people. Is that right?
Where does your opinion come from? Does it come from a positive regard for Obama? Does it come from facts showing his unawareness? Does it come from your experiencing Obama's tone as convincing (whereas I shudder when I hear him)?
How has your opinions developed?
Do your opinions change? Do mine? If so, how and why? If not, why not?
A further approach to opinions is to try to establish how, for both people, opinions may be validated, or invalidated.
How important are facts, for instance? To what extent are facts sought out? Are further facts considered, once an opinion been established?
What about logic? Does it matter if the opinions make logical sense?
Exploring opinions and exploring how we validate them are best done before a "whack whack whack" opinion exchange, before a heated (and unusally unprofitable) exchange.
My thought: exploring is way better than one person, or two people, either just expressing opinions (as if this were an end in itself, as if it mattered to express the opinion, no matter what) or just trying to convince
(with no looking at if the trying had any chance of succeeding).
December 4, 2015
Who Has the Better Opinion?
What’s Your Opinion? Do Opinions Matter?
WHEN? WHY? HOW?
What about Facts vs Opinions.
Click here, to go from this exploration of
who has the better opinion
and how to evaluation opinions
to the home page.