jueves, 19 de abril de 2018

4th Day. Oxford Union reflections

In the afternoon, i had the honor of visiting the famous Oxford Union Society. It's a almost two hundred years old institution dedicated to public debate. Founded by students in the beginnings of the XIX century (1823), its mission was to hold regular debates about polemical questions.

To be a member, you have to study at Oxford and pay a 300 pound fee. British Premier William Gladstone used to invite members of its cabinet, sky-rocketing the prestige of the Oxford Union. Since then, a lot of politicians, thinkers or artists have debated there. But, remarkably, being a member of the board, specially president, could help a student to develop a political career, like prime ministers as the mentioned Gladstone, Heath, Asquith or McMillan; even in other countries, like Pakistan former president Benazir Bhutto, the first woman to hold such a position in a muslim country.

The debates are competitive: at the end, the students vote with their feet: they go through a particular side of the exit door to reflect if they agree or not with the resolution debated

Having a tea in its exclusive cafe, i was wondering about how we are losing the art of debating. And, more specifically, if we have lost the ability the change our mind about issues. Is there a point in debating with so many people that will reject every logical point because the "feel" they are right? Why so many people think that being persuaded by solid argumentations is a kind of personal defeat that they have to avoid at all costs? I am not very optimistic about this questions... but, hey, I am in a very exclusive temple of debate, so, I am happy, as you can see in the picture

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