Argument Is War

  • Description of motion:  Hand extends outward with palm facing other person.  Motion of arms stops and then hand quickly angles further toward the person.

  • Observed:  1-14-2015. Rad School Meeting. KNDL.  13 people seated around table. 

  • Link to use:  No Offense: The New Threats to Free Speech

  • Example:  "No offense, but I don't think the example you gave is pertinent to this discussion."

  • Use:  Used as a concilitatory gesture to suggest (whether true or not) that someone is not being attacked.

  • Metaphor: Argument is War

  • Explanation:  If Argument is War, then there is an offensive and a defensive strategy to arguments, just as there is to war.  You can attack and you can defend.  There are social repercussions for people that always seem to be "attacking" in their arguments, the main one being, that they will be perceived as a bully.  Feigning defense then becomes a strategy to mitigate this problem.  The phrase, "No offense" can sometimes be stated truthfully, as when someone unconsciously offends someone and then realizes what they've said and tries to rectify the situation, or it can be used to try and diminish what is obviously an aggressive strategy by immediately describing it (before or after the statement) as "no offense".

    Arguments can then also be thought of as "weak" or "strong", both words that have to do with force (two fundamental forces in physics).  A strong argument can then "move people" because a strong argument is thought of as having a "strong force".  

    The gesture of the palm facing towards the other person, is itself a defensive gesture, which bears similarity to the "stop" gesture (hand held defiantly out) as well as the "search me" gesture, where the hands are held palm up to the person, as well as the "hands up" gesture.  That a defensive gesture is coupled with a defensive saying "no offense" is interesting, in that, this pair usually is accompanied by an aggressive statement, seemingly trying to mask the aggressiveness, so as to not seem like a bully. 

    The gesture also has a slight tilt of the hand at the end, as if moving a small physical force forward, almost a "be seated" gesture, which could be interpreted as "calm down" or as a motion to indicate the "lowering of pressure".

  • Note on categorization:  War is often thought of as the collision of forces.  The greater force, might generate more "momentum" thus easily "rolling over" the "weaker force".  All of these war metaphors surround the basic idea of Force, which is why it is categorized as such.

  • Origin:  We can experience the wind pushing against us, or pushing us along.  We can experience severe outbreaks of weather, thunderstorms, blizzards, that come with great force, that move objects and destroy much of what is around us.  Experiencing this, we can then talk about abstract ideas as forces that push against each other, that move objects, that do battle in the world.