Argumentation is not fighting. Argumentation is not bickering. It's not late night talk shows, political campaigns, or late night talk shows. Argumentation is reason.
Argumentation is knowing where you are headed - knowing both sides of a story. Argumentation is recognizing logic, seeing fallacies, and making adjustments as you go.
Argumentation has nothing to do with being smart. Being smart involves having quick answers and thinking on your toes. Intelligence, on the other hand, requires reading deeply, thinking thoroughly, and responding appropriately. It's about peeling back the curtain, looking inside. Piece by piece you discover more and your argument strengthens.
Argumentation is not about reaction, it's about responding. It's listening to voices you did not know existed five minutes before, reading a situation, and bringing those sides together for a solution.
Argumentation is not debate, where someone wins and someone loses. Argumentation bridges gap, builds concensus, and offers alternatives. It's something the great civilizations of our Western Tradition used to create the world we live in; it's the foundation of our democratic society, but sadly, it's something our country lost long ago, and something it needs desperately now.
Argumentation may not make you smarter, but it will definitely force you toward intelligence. It will not move you toward your ultimate career goal, but it will introduce you to the skills necessary to succeed. As the Bible says, we see through a cloudy mirror -- we do not fully know what some day we fully will. In the mean time, life is filled with those that would lead us astray; we need to negotiate, we need to see our options, and we need to "be transformed by the renewing of our minds," and, for this class at least, we will do so through the art of argumentation.