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Limits of Critical Discussion?

How effective can critical discussion be as the primary mode of learning more in a field once you reach the very top of the field? Once you know all the common ideas and arguments, then people who only know those common ideas and arguments can be of little use.

Or perhaps not. If you have a new idea, then the reactions of those same people to the new idea will be new to you.

But what if you are so far ahead of others in the field that their reactions to new ideas consistently contain nothing you didn't already consider? Then critical discussion wouldn't be especially useful. Is such a scenario realistic? If one was in it, should they make progress by critical discussion within their own mind? Or should they find another field to work on? Or should they teach others and help them catch up? Or should they make progress in this field by some other method?

Elliot Temple on October 3, 2009

Comments (9)

Critical discussion

I think that the scenario is not realistic. What usually happens is that different people come up with similar new ideas that are actually slightly different. This happens because the logic of the problem situation pushes rational truth seeking people with good ideas in a particular direction. These people eventually come together and critically discuss ideas with one another and their ideas move a bit closer in some respects. But they never agree so well that they could not benefit from critical discussion, which is also the only way to find out exactly what they differ on. However, discovering exactly where they differ is difficult unless they spend some time apart with each individual developing his ideas in the direction that seems most promising to him.

Alan Forrester at 12:50 PM on October 3, 2009 | #1912
What about, say, William Godwin's ideas on education. I don't know that anyone else at his time understood what he meant, let alone could contribute.

Elliot at 12:56 PM on October 3, 2009 | #1913
He wrote a book, didn't he?

Anonymous at 7:01 AM on October 12, 2009 | #1914
Yes. A lot of books, actually. That doesn't stop one from being misunderstood.

Elliot at 12:29 PM on October 12, 2009 | #1916
Well how about finding experts in other fields, sharing ideas and seeing how their knowledge might relate to yours,challenge it and help it to grow.

elizabeth at 12:02 PM on October 13, 2009 | #1921
i agree with elizabeth.

first of all; any field contains the same types of arguments(meta).

secondly, try to not concentrate on that and listen to the content.

which you do.

then dismiss some of your own conclusions about what is meta and what is not.

then dismiss some of those ideas that apply to most fields, imo still meta.

then try to listen to any content in any form. which you already think you're doing.

then! try to answer in ways people talk.

which you also do. BUT

those fields you might or might not be thinking of, any field really, when it comes to argumentation and the strength of good explanations, the available and interesting fields tend to narrow down once one concentrates too much on that meta so one might feel that *anything* said or presented isn't new after all.

but then again, try to get behind that because it's all a construction within your own mind.

then again, we could discuss what i mean by meta! i mean: ways of explaining and argumenting about things. structures. they aren't creative. they are simply explanations of ways of argumenting.

saying refutation of bold ideas is what matters is only a way to explain something abstract that happens within one's mind, but it doesn't really tell anything about the content. right?

people are not equally skilled at it all. but that does not exclude the content or brilliant ideas they might have! so one needs to openly interpret and listen in creative ways too. not only recognise meta types of argumentations and thereby refuting content based on that.

a badly presented and argued content still includes something. look for that!

Anonymous at 12:59 PM on October 13, 2009 | #1922
"Yes. A lot of books, actually. That doesn't stop one from being misunderstood."

You have the answer on what to do, though.

Anonymous at 12:56 AM on November 2, 2009 | #1925
Isn't one of the ways to learn through trying to apply your current uncriticised theories to existing unsolved problems, those problems can be found even in people who have mistaken ideas who try to solve those problems with mistaken ideas.

Anonymous at 4:36 PM on December 21, 2016 | #7992
#7992 what are you replying to? the blog post? a comment? i'm also unclear on your point. it'd help if you organized your writing in sentences. i think you were careless in writing this which is why the grammar is wrong.

Anonymous at 4:39 PM on December 21, 2016 | #7993

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)