Friday, June 1, 2012

Threads of Discussion

There is an interesting problem called the problem of Dining Philosophers. Sometime back, I was actually sitting in such a round-table with food ahead and thinking how to start a discussion. It occurred to me that a discussion begins by identifying common (or uncommon) grounds first.

In as many last meetings with strangers as I remember, we walked the following chart.
"where are you from ?"
"what do you work on ?"
I think you know the pattern.

Then, based on the answers to the first few questions, we reach deeper. For example, based on the locational study, we discuss the weather. If you are sports-enthusiasts then, talk the games that are generally played in your place and the other one's place. With more abstraction and based on the unique features of the location, it goes to the cultural varieties. In one of my chance encounters with an academician from Mexico, we had almost the full discussion devoted to the the ancient tribal culture in Mexico.

Coming to the recent memory of the dining guests. We actually did not start any discussion whatsoever and let ourselves solve the famous problem by eating and thinking simultaneously. Unless you do the talking, you will not need to put down the fork/spoon and therefore, the resource contension problem is completely bypassed.One of the diners amongst us pushed ahead with several questions by stopped after receiving several awkward replies from another diner.

What I did wonder is if, ever, someone would follow a discussion pattern like the following to hit common grounds.

"Hello, I am an honest person"
"Hello, I care least about honesty"
"Well, violations of honesty are hard to spot as there is no proved existence about something called absolute truth"
"I do not care even about the practical truths, leave alone absolute"
"OK, how would you arrange your moral fibres in front of the people you care about"
"I dont think emotion has a connection with honesty"
"Do you value emotions at all ?"
"As long as it does not stay in line with my dishonest decisions"
"Why do you care about dishonesty"
"Because I would like to be honest about at least something"

Such conversations can only be triggered based upon some impetus like a social movement highlighting honesty. I was wondering if we follow or participate in any discussion to take a stand or to just avoid taking a stand. Deeper the issue, stronger the penalty of choosing a side. Better, we remain in common ground forever. The ray of hope is, at the end, no matter what, one has to cover the whole ground anyway.

Now, do not stare at the blog with a question mark on your face. We can discuss over this when we meet.


  1. hahahahha ......

    "Hello, I am an honest person"
    "Hello, I care least about honesty"

    LOL .... awesome conversation starters :P


  2. @Sarvo,

    I am in US currently. All discussions start with "How do you do?", which sounds like "Ha-Di-Du" to my unaccustomed ear. :-)