Friday, December 03, 2010

Scholars of the Valley.

The Grand Mother-Empress summoned the greatest scholars of the River, the impuritans of the lower valley and the Maximalists of the upper valley, to debate her divinity. Privately, she hoped she was not divine.

The impuritans, charged with negative position, sent as their first arguer, a boy of eleven. Boy-of-eleven was quite a prodigy, to be sure, but no one expected him to win an imperial debate. The Maximalists clearly didn't expect him to win, as they sent out an over-the-hill back bencher, who was scarcely an imperial class arguer when he was in his prime. Looking uncomfortable in a brand new formal suit, Boy-of-Eleven looked like he had just come from his manhood ceremony, which would in fact not be for two more years. Back-Bencher wore the suit he wore when he won his most famous argument, some twenty years ago.

"Hey kid. Don't think for a moment that I'm going to take it easy on you because your a kid." Back-Bencher said as the two shook hands.

The kid won the toss, and got to choose the style of argument. "Dissent" he called. "I'll take the skeptical position." This was a safe move for him. In a dissent all the skeptic has to do is prove that the positive side has not made its case. In a debate, by contrast, both sides have positions they are trying to prove, and it is possible for the argument to end in a tie.

"Inductive reasoning," Back-Bencher replied, "from plausible premises." He was, at least, not simply handing the boy the match. If he had called for deductive reasoning or self evident premises, he would have a harder row to hoe. Perhaps he knew his limitations.

"I assert the divinity of the grand Mother-Empress," declared the Back-Bencher, "and as evidence I offer the prosperity of the valley."

With this opening move, the grand Mother-Empress sighed, not loudly, but enough that that she could be heard by her chief advisor on her left and her eldest son on her right.

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