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War of words waged with philosophy

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Philosophical Society and the Parliamentary Debate Society sponsored “War of the Words: When Words Collide,” an open forum on the power of concepts and phrases, on Thursday, Nov. 7.

The program featured a spirited debate between members of the Philosophical Society and the Parliamentary Debate Society on four predetermined topics: “Picture vs. A Thousand Words,” “Knowledge vs. Persuasion,” “Vampires vs. Zombies” and “Ancient Greek Life vs. Fraternity Greek Life.” After representatives  from both sides were done presenting their arguments, students in the audience were invited to go to the stage and present their arguments on the topic.

In the first debate, “Picture vs. A Thousand Words,” Chris Davis of the Philosophical Society argued for the “Picture” side while freshman biology major Marcus Elias of the Parliamentary Society Debate argued for the “A Thousand Words” side. Davis’s assertion that pictures allow for imagination was refuted by Elias, who stated that words are required for his opponent to even make an argument in favor of pictures.

“I tried to show the descriptive power of words — that you can’t write in pictures without using words,” Elias said after the program.

The second topic, “Knowledge vs. Persuasion,” was debated between senior philosophy major Olivia Froehlich and Victoria Levchenko. While Levchenko argued for persuasion, Froehlich argued for knowledge. The winner of that debate was a member of the audience who stated that the superiority of persuasion has allowed terrible atrocities to occur, including Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

Next was “Vampires vs. Zombies,” which was debated between Miguel O’Malley and Jacob Carino. The open forum for the topic yielded the largest number of students speaking out of all four debates and ranged in evidence presented from the flaws of “The Walking Dead” to the “Twilight” series to an episode of “The Deadliest Warrior.”

The fourth and final topic was “Ancient Greek Life vs. Fraternity Greek Life” debated between Steve Schwering and Sean Modri.

Modri’s arguments for Ancient Greek Life centered on the contributions to modern society that the Ancient Greeks made in mathematics and philosophy, while Schwering’s argument for Fraternity Greek Life centered on what fraternities and sororities do for their members.

However, even Schwering conceded that Ancient Greek Life had many benefits — the students in the open forum agreed.

After the forum was over, Froehlich said she enjoyed it.

“It was my first time being here,” she said. “I thought it was a great experience, not intimidating at all.”


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