Reading on in Cheryl Misak’s biography of Frank Ramsey, we’re into his early undergrad life at Trinity Cambridge. Trying out the various college and university debating societies including the still legendary Cambridge Union.
A recurring topic of mine is the value of dialogue in contrast to the artificial win-lose aims of debating a motion. Inescapably and imperfect binary decision-making component of choice by voting in a democracy, but far from advancing truth and knowledge. Rather the contrary. An evolutionary degeneration towards a world of binary opposites, as I’ve characterised it many times in the last two decades.
After giving up on debating societies Ramsey records
(my [paraphrasing] Misak, quoting Ramsey):
He loathed the perverted ambition of debating … [playing to the gallery]
He found [it better] in less formal settings … [like being invited to tea to debate with individuals]
Obvious risks in identifying with the greatest genius that ever lived, but I do … also in his impression of mixed gender settings moderating the “silliness” of debate. And how about (with my day-job information management hat on) a woman’s intuition (Dora Black) after wading through an archetypal (C.K.Ogden) tutor’s office buried under cluttered piles of books and papers …
… a method of filing which would commend itself to anyone who knows that, once a thing has gotten into a folder of a filing cabinet, it will never be found again …
Too true. The hypocrisy of formally imposed structure.