Essay about The Argument Culture: Rhetorical Analysis

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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.
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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 behaviors. She says, “There are times when it is necessary and right to fight – to defend your country or yourself, to argue for your rights or against offensive or dangerous ideas or actions,” (Tannen, 1998). She is clearly against what she terms, “the argument culture” (Tannen, 1998). These two sides of the argument can be clearly seen throughout her essay.

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