Beating People at Arguments

Today’s blog is a bit different. I recently had a neat exchange with Mike Rugnetta on Twitter about the differences between discourse and argument and thought that I’d share. The Twitter conversation can be viewed below or via this link.  (And if you don’t already follow Mike’s excellent podcast and PBS vlog series… you really should.)

Basically, the question is this: Is “beating” someone at an argument the same thing as having a discourse? Is it the goal of discourse, and if not, what is?

This topic has been on my mind lately, and I’d be eager to hear your thoughts in the comments. Have you ever experienced the scenario in question? Any ideas on how to promote and engage discourse instead of disputes, especially on the Internet?

In case you don’t want to click away, here’s the Tumblr post to which I refer. It’s from my commonplace book and seemed to mesh well with what Mike was saying. (You can probably ignore the exploratory bits about functionalities and stuff in the end.)

Tumblr post


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Jedd Cole

Jedd Cole is a writer and scholar of literature, language, theory and philosophy. He studied rhetoric, writing and Spanish at University of Cincinnati. He produces video essays on the Electric Didact YouTube channel: Find his fiction and other recent work at

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