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Do analogies actually add something to debates?

#1moe44Posted 7/20/2011 2:26:58 PM
I know this isn't strictly an on-topic subject, but considering how often analogies get thrown around in religious debates, I wanted to ask.

My personal view on the matter is that too often it brings nothing new and derails (part of) the topic into a sub-debate about wether or not the specific analogy is good/flawed. I don't see how it addresses any actual point at hand, it just seems to shift the focus away into an easier-to-defend position...and little else.

From what I understand, though, it seems clear that analogies are accepted as valid forms of argument, and I'd like to be explained the appeal, because I don't doubt that it's there and I just don't get it. I can clearly see the appeal when teaching, anyhow, as it helps understand a subject by being shown an analogous, more common situation. But for actual arguments between two person, the appeal seems less obvious.

This topic probably sounds silly but I'm sure I'll learn something from it.
#2kozlo100Posted 7/20/2011 2:31:43 PM
Yes, I think they add a great deal to debates.

When properly used, and properly considered, they are a wonderful tool for examining single aspects of the greater debate without getting hung up on cruft that isn't relevant to the point at hand.
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The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication. -- Philip K. Dick
#3moe44(Topic Creator)Posted 7/20/2011 2:53:34 PM
kozlo100 posted...
When properly used, and properly considered

Perhaps that's the problem for me. I can't seem to recall a time when an analogy made me go "Ahhh!" (although I possibly just don't remember it and it did happen).

Or maybe I'm just sick of the Thor analogies. And I'm not even a theist.
#4GuideToTheDarkPosted 7/20/2011 3:40:49 PM(edited)
Analogy is my favorite subject.


Okay sorry for that.

Analogies do help to get things through to people (including myself) in situations where there are many ways to interpret a statement/argument/quote/lyric/cuss.
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Of course the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you--if you don't play, you can't win. -- Robert Heinlein
'Would have', not 'would of'.
#5moe44(Topic Creator)Posted 7/20/2011 3:57:29 PM
GuideToTheDark posted...
Analogy is my favorite subject.


Okay sorry for that.


I don't get it. I'm assuming I used the word "subject" wrong, in which case I apologize. English is my second language.
#6GuideToTheDarkPosted 7/20/2011 3:59:04 PM
I intended to make you groan and/or lol, but you did it to me instead.

Do you know what anal means?
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Of course the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you--if you don't play, you can't win. -- Robert Heinlein
'Would have', not 'would of'.
#7fudrickPosted 7/20/2011 3:59:22 PM
As they relate to this board, it can help a person question or think critically about the qualities they assign to their deities without directly questioning their deities. People often have trouble allowing themselves to do this so when an analogy is presented, it can sometimes help. However, most of the times it seems that since people realize that the analogy is basically a way of indirectly coaxing people into questioning their beliefs they extend their lack of questioning to the analogy.
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#8fudrickPosted 7/20/2011 4:07:39 PM
Yeah, I like analorgies too.

Sorry, analogies. I meant analogies.
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Best FCs:
GH1: Decontrol | GH2: Jordan, Hangar 18 | GH80s: Because It's Midnite | GH3: One, Soothsayer | RB2: I Ain't Superstitious
#9the_hedonistPosted 7/20/2011 4:09:36 PM
Analogies can be extremely helpful in debates. You can state an opinion or a fact, but when you use a relevant analogy, you can help to show how your assertion works itself out in a hypothetical reality. In many cases, they help to clarify or to defend one's assertion.

Issues arise when a person uses a poor analogy or another person misunderstands the point of the analogy. In that case, many times the argument is shifted to arguing the specifics of the analogy instead of the issue being discussed. This can derail a discussion as you mentioned, but it is not always the case.

moe44 posted...
I can clearly see the appeal when teaching, anyhow, as it helps understand a subject by being shown an analogous, more common situation. But for actual arguments between two person, the appeal seems less obvious.

This depends on whether we are talking about a formal debate or a discussion. In a debate, one attempts to defend their position regardless of whether he or she thinks it is true. According to my understanding of what a discussion should be, the group of people should put forward their assertions to test the truth and reach a conclusion together. Obviously that does not always happen, but it can.

In most discussions, there is more than one opinion on the matter so it is sort of like mutual or interactive teaching. One person asserts something or "teaches" their opinion, and the other person will give feedback, and if they disagree, they will then teach their opinion. If you think about discussions in that way, then the reason we use analogies is obvious.

Theoretically, this is a discussion board, not a debate board. The reason I am here, at least, is to discuss religion. I am not trying to prove to anyone that I am skilled in rhetoric or debate. I am trying to reach the truth within this community.
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#10moe44(Topic Creator)Posted 7/20/2011 4:18:56 PM(edited)
GuideToTheDark posted...
I intended to make you groan and/or lol, but you did it to me instead.

Do you know what anal means?


So it's just a terrible pun, gotcha. I'm not sure why I was supposed to get it though, unless it's a popular pun. The sentence "Analogy is my favorite subject." hardly gives the pun away by itself.


In most discussions, there is more than one opinion on the matter so it is sort of like mutual or interactive teaching. One person asserts something or "teaches" their opinion, and the other person will give feedback, and if they disagree, they will then teach their opinion. If you think about discussions in that way, then the reason we use analogies is obvious.


I guess I can see it that way. Thanks.