Moving Past Reasons - John C. Wunsch, P.C.
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Moving Past Reasons

We’ve set forth our reasons. We believe others will accept them. They’re valid reasons and they’ve been presented in good faith. Yet others have not been persuaded. We seek an explanation.

Rational arguments versus irrational arguments. A rational argument is based on truth; an irrational argument is based on falsity. But both types of arguments, however, utilize perception to help justify the conclusions sought. It follows that changing another’s view starts with helping (or perhaps challenging) them to see things correctly. Your first step might be small. Simply casting a light to an area previously shrouded in darkness.

“People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” ― Blaise Pascal

Reasons as tools to convince others. There are, of course, variants. Reasons that work to support and protect one’s position. Reasons that cut through contrary positions. Reasons which have multiple purposes. Reasons that can be used to attack opposing ideas. Reasons that can be used to expose mistakes. Reasons that work to suggest new ways of looking at things. Reasons that push, press, advance, develop, enlarge. Reasons that fit within categories, then applied to that which corresponds. Etc.

“People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.” ― Blaise Pascal

What makes a reason persuasive? Common responses include: “It carries weight, it’s based on fact, it’s verifiable, it bears the mark of legitimacy, it fits well within context, it comports with common sense.” Reasons are most persuasive when they touch both logic and emotion simultaneously, but in different ways. An entirely emotional argument will not work against pure logic, and an entirely logical argument will not work against pure emotion––or so we’ve been told. In fact, things are a bit more complex. One method is to realize that a successful emotional argument must be based to a certain degree on logic, and a successful logical argument must be based to a certain degree on emotion.

“When people said, Convince me, she knew it didn’t mean they had an open mind. It meant they had power and wanted to enjoy it a minute.” ― Max Barry

What if our reasons do not persuade? For lawsuits, reasons are the coin of the realm. Reasons––witnesses, evidence, testimony, argument––can be multifaceted, but for each there’s a limit. Is there anything else that can be utilized? Well, perhaps there’s a way. Reasons are what we believe will convince others, but perhaps the real solution exists outside the margins. Moving past reasons––into an entirely separate realm. Perhaps there are no limits after all. A first step: to begin to think outside the limits of reasoning.

“You cannot reason people out of a position that they did not reason themselves into.”― Ben Goldacre

Perhaps a good rule of thumb: prepare reasons, then prepare for those areas beyond. Studies, observations, contemplations––the thought is to seek areas where others can simply take a moment and pause. No need to be rigorous or logical at that juncture. It’s almost as if you’re connecting on a different level. It’s probably the mark of a strong argument that at some point others can simply take stock of things. No need for every phrase to make linguistic or logical sense. This seems, of course, a bit counterintuitive––one would expect straight-cut lines to be more effective. Yet a great deal exists outside the outermost edge: it’s the farthest out, difficult to see, yet the most valuable.

Emerson had this to say on the subject: “Foolish whenever you take the meanness & formality of what thing you do as a lecture, a preaching, a school, a teachers’ meeting & do not rather magnify it to be the unwilling spiracle of all your character and aims. Let their ears tingle, let them say ‘we never saw it in this manner.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Selected Journals 1820-1842, Pg. 590 (The Library of America, 2010)(Lawrence Rosenwald, Editor).