I don’t believe that at all. In fact, he’s quite a nice and thoughtful person.
John Metta

Thanks for defending that guy as ‘not a dick’. It is refreshing that you can see him as a nice guy even as you disagree with him.

However, I do think that there is a really good case for the so-called ‘intellectual discussion’, which I think is often misunderstood, both here and at large.

I think, at the root of the misunderstanding is the terminology we use to describe these types of discussions. Phrases like ‘rise above emotions’ seem to imply that emotions are regressive, and words like ‘intellectual’ and ‘logical’ are alienating to a lot of people. But I think these terms are misnomers. Rather than calling for ‘intellectual discussion’, I think it would be more productive to ask for a ‘respectful conversation’ or, probably even better, an ‘empathetic conversation’.

Essentially, there is a difference between a conversation where people respectfully keep their emotions in check so as not to alienate others, and a conversation where emotion isn’t considered a valid part of the human experience. The former is what I think we need a lot more of. The latter is not good, but I also think this is rarely what people are actually calling for when they ask for an ‘intellectual discussion’ (although I suspect it is what other people often think they mean).

The danger with expressing our emotions too loudly/vividly/frequently during a tough conversation is not that this is “regressive” behavior. It’s that we risk dominating the conversation, and making others feel alienated or defensive. And when people feel alienated or defensive, it will be very hard for them to really hear you.

Basically, what it comes down to is empathy. If we show others we are empathetic towards them, they are much more likely to show empathy towards us. And the more empathy we have for each other, the more likely we are to learn from each other. However, if we get too caught up in our own emotions, others will often perceive that we don’t have enough room to consider their emotions— and so a vicious cycle begins.

Look — as humans, we are emotional beings. And there will be times where we will wear our hearts on our sleeves during a tough conversation. Sometimes we will yell, and sometimes we will cry. But we need to realize that doing so has a very real potential for alienating everyone else. And if we cross the line to the point where the others in the group think we’re not in a state to listen to them, too, then we need to take a step back, reign in our emotions for a bit, and let others know that we are ready to hear them.

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