The Argument Culture: Rhetorical Analysis
An old adage says, “In quarreling, the truth is always lost,” (Bolander, 1987). The truth is often considered subjective; it depends on circumstances, time, and many other variables. We understand that what is truth to one may not be truth to another, and after reading Dr. Tannen’s work, I realized that she has done exactly what she said exacerbates the argumentative culture we live in today. She has looked at only two sides. Due to this, I would call into question Dr. Tannen’s truthfulness in her book The Argument Culture. Tannen has successfully shown this attitude in our culture but her arguments and writing style force one to conclude that there is a lack personal credibility.
Dr. Deborah Tannen’s thesis, “we have plunged headfirst into what I call the ‘argument culture,” (Tannen, 1998) in her book The Argument Culture, is intended to pique one’s curiosity. Upon reading Dr. Tannen’s work I soon found myself nodding my head in agreement. How can one not agree that our society is not the pillar of chivalry it once was? After fulfilling the requirements for our last session, I find myself questioning Dr. Tannen’s work a little more. I agree that our society has been inundated with a lack of courtesy from all areas. However, I doubt that this is a new condition. Ms. Tannen has brought to the forefront of our minds the condition that our society is in, and is challenging us to change.
Dr. Tannen initially appears to do an excellent job of establishing her credibility through stories. She used examples from public arenas, such as the Holocaust debaters she refers to in The Argument Culture (Tannen, 1998), as well as her interview with National Public Radio (NPR, 1998). She used an example of her father-in-law’s reaction to dinner time solicitors (Tannen, 1998). She also used an example of how this attitude is displayed in the political arena from political nominations to partisanship gridlock (NPR, 1998).
Tannen says she has researched the origin of our aggressive society and found that it lies with the seminaries of the Middle Ages. She told Daniel Zwerdling of NPR, “They were seminaries. And all the people who went to those universities who were not getting educated so that they could learn the truth. They were learning to debate. It was the public performance of debate that was the goal,” (NPR, 1998). She says, “The roots of our love for ritualized opposition lie in the educational system that we all pass through,” (Tannen, 1998). Tannen completely disregards the aggressive ancient societies and turns a blind eye to history. She never once mentions an aggressive and contentious society being problematic for England or France, which is where the seminaries would have been located in the Middle Ages. This forces one to begin to question her credibility.
In order to look at a differing opinion, Dr. Tannen acknowledges that there are appropriate times for antagonistic...