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Argumentation: A Childish Game

osho and university collegues

To win in a logical discussion is a childish game. You may not have experienced anything, yet you can be a good logician. You may not know anything at all about the truth, but you can argue well. That is a totally different quality.
In Greece these people were called sophists. By and by they became condemned; in the beginning they were respected just like the world teachers of India. The work of the sophists was to argue and to teach how to argue. And argument is simply a game, just like chess. It has nothing to do with truth. Nobody has ever achieved truth through argumentation. Yes, you can defeat somebody. You can even defeat the person who may have experienced. If you are articulate enough and can bring in language and logic in your support, there is no difficulty. By the time Socrates arrived on the scene in Greece, the sophists were everywhere. It was Socrates who condemned sophistry. He said, I can argue from any side. You tell me to be for God or to be against God: I can argue from any side, and I am going to win." And he demonstrated it. He would argue from both sides and he would win from both sides. And he said, "What is the meaning of all this argumentation?"
I know it because it happened to me. While I was a student in the university I loved only one game, and that was argument. I hated every other game because all other games looked very childish. If you know argumentation, then there is no game compared to it. And I was going from one university to another university for debating, for eloquence competitions.
In Nagpur University it happened.... Two people always used to go, one person with me: one for and one against the subject. One, the person who had gone to speak against the subject, suddenly became sick. It was time to go to the university auditorium, and he had diarrhea. He said, "It is impossible; I cannot make it, I cannot go. I cannot remain even five minutes in the room and I have to run to the bathroom - how am I going to wait there for three or four hours continuously? And one never knows when our number is to come... impossible."
So I said, "Don′t be worried. I will take care of it."
He said, "How are you going to take care of it?"
I said, "You will see."
I was for the subject. This was my approach always, that whoever was going with me.... It was a competition first in the affiliated colleges - you have to win in all the affiliated colleges - then the university competition, your own university competition, you have to win that. Then two people would be chosen. Then they have to decide which one was going to be for, and the other would be against. It was always troublesome because people wanted the stronger side.
With me it was never a problem. I always told them, "You choose the side you want to be on, and the remaining one is mine."
"But," they said, "that never happens. People fight and then we have to draw chits for and against, or we have to go to the vice-chancellor to decide. With you it is so simple, you allow us the choice. What is the secret?"
I said, "There is no secret. If you know how to argue, it does not matter for what you are arguing. If you don′t know how to argue, then too it does not matter."
I was speaking for. I spoke for, then it was the number of my opposite colleague; his name was Karl. I stood up and went to the opposite side. The vice-chancellor of Nagpur University was presiding. He said, "What! You have just spoken for, and now you are standing against?"
I said, "What can I do? The man who was to speak against is suffering from diarrhea. It is not my fault, and for me there is no problem."
"But," he said, "just now you have spoken for."
I said, "Yes, I have spoken for. Now listen to me speaking against too. Just forget that I am the same person. Why bother about the person? - you have to listen to the argument. Who is arguing should not be your concern, your concern should be for the argument."
He said, "Okay."
I argued against. I won both the prizes. Against, I won the first prize; for, I won the second prize. And I told the vice-chancellor, "Look, what do you say now? Of course when I was arguing for somebody else then I did my best. When I was arguing for myself, I knew perfectly well that I was going to be first, so who bothers? But I am neither for nor against; I am absolutely neutral. It is just a game, and you are taking it so seriously."

(Osho - From Unconsciousness to Consciousness #20)