Friday, July 15, 2005

Wherefore Art Thou, Philosophy? Part 2

O.K. where was I....
Oh, yes. Philosophical Emails.
Again questions arise along the lines of 'why do people wish to enter into philosophical debate/discussion/conversation?', and 'why is it almost impossible to hold it through email?'

In my opinion, the said Philosophical Discussions may deepen friendships. Or if not deepen, simply allow people to feel that they are establishing a connection with another human being that is more than simply a "'hi, how are you?' and continue walking without waiting for an answer" type of thing that some people call a relationship. (It's fake, I tell you! FAKE!!! Run away! Run away!!).

Certainly there are many aspects, but perhaps the quality of the 'connection' and people's willingness to enter into email conversation (philosophical or otherwise) may depend on:
  1. The subject matter (seriousness, contentiousness, etc will be major influences).
  2. The convictions of the discussees regarding the subject matter.
  3. Their knowledge of the subject matter.
  4. Their ability and willingness to share their opinion and their ability and willingness to listen to and withhold judgement of another's opinion (if the topic is contentious).
  5. Their ability to be able to 'read' another person and 'hear' what they have to say (Considering about 30% of a person's meaning is conveyed in the words they use, and the rest is conveyed through body language and by their intonation, tone, etc - there is quite a margin for the possibility of misinterpreting someone).
  6. The number of people included in the list of recipients (the more people, the harder it is for the turn-taking 'back-and-forth' opportunities needed in a discussion where people are bouncing ideas around and discussing different opinions. Where there are only two people, the turn-taking becomes inherent in the 'conversation').
  7. The speed of their internet connection.
  8. Their ability to type at the speed of their thoughts.
  9. The time they have to check email every few minutes for replies and the time they have to write their own replies. If too much time lapses, the conversation looses it's 'flow'. This is where instant messaging is good.
In other words, the closer the email debate/discussion/converstaion can be to a 'normal' face-to-face conversation, the greater the likelihood that the conversation will be entered into.

One thing I will add, email conversations can often be quite spontaneous. Rodney and I have just had a most interesting (albeit, kinda short) conversation about Transformers (don't know that it was all that philosophical, or all that serious, but hey). If you would like a transcript of our conversation, please send $5 to.......


A good friend of mine, Anton, is a master at working serious philosophy into his emails. He is back in PNG and writes updates of what he is up to and what he encounters. The emails do not spark discussions (it would be simply impossible for multiple reasons, mostly related to time and internet availability), but they have philosophical content and give opinions and 'food for thought' without needing replies. If you are after this type of philosophy, (or just an interesting read) go to his website. I recommend reading episode 13 , but episode 14 is also very good.

Stap gut, olgeta. Bel isi, na lukim yu behain.

No comments: