A difference between debate and discussion

A difference between debate and discussion

Paula over on The Beauty of life has written a very interesting post about the art/craft debate. Like me Paula does not see the term craft as a derogatory tag but many do and since the discussion was turned into a debate i.e. stating something is either this or that.

For me discussions that are framed in these black and white thinking and invariably false. I find that the minute you frame a discussion with two ideas as being diametrically opposed both ideas can become undone.
What most people never see is that you just don’t have to think in terms of this OR that. It is possible with concepts to think in terms of this AND that. Last months TIF challenge topic was one about definitions. Some people felt they had to limit how they defined who they are.They had to say they were an artist or crafter or what ever. I would ask why not expand definitions? I define myself as both! My point is that a habit of thought dominant in our culture can have you limiting how you see the world.

I don’t know of anything in life that is really diametrically opposed. So I ask why do we do it with two concepts such as art and craft. It’s simply a cultural habit of thought and one that because the discussion is so constructed and framed with in a tradition a of debate it actually leads no where. It creates a false conflict and a false value system. It is possible to define, discuss and tease out ideas without framing the discussion in term of a debate and if done so could lead somewhere provided it is a genuine discussion instead if setting this idea against that idea.

I don’t think or live that way. There are lots of tones in between and so for me it it the same with art and craft. Some art is crafted other crafts are art and it is possible for objects to be either or a mix of the two and still highly valued. It is possible to have objects valued for their artistic merit and/or their fine craftsmanship.

Anyway pop over and see what Paula has written. It will at least make you think.


  1. Sue – Lots of people do as it is part of our tradition in philosophy which is why I wrote it. It comes from the Greeks. The thing is, we now live a very complex world and if we approach all problems with that mindset we will run into walls. Contemporary life is more complex and layered not simply this or that. I am pleased you enjoyed the post.

  2. Thank you for opening my mind to the difference between a discussion and a debate. I know I can be a victim of ‘either/or’ thinking in some aspects of my life; it happens without my realizing it most times. At least I’m becoming more aware of that particular pitfall and can avoid it or climb out of it before I get too mired in the muck!

  3. ah, yes, putting labels on things and people seems to be important to many of us. Am I a quilter and if a quilter why do I sew clothes or toys? Am I a crafter, or is that a crocheter who also makes sweaters and afghans? Am I a mechanic probably not in the eyes of a trained mechanic but I can certainly fix alot of things about the house! How bout a house wife — does the mortgage mean I am married to this house? What will my lover think of that?
    I am nothing and everything that I want to be.
    I enjoy your posts and return on a regular basis, so am I a reader or a writer?

  4. Sharon, the subject matter has been around for ages. I don’t think it will ever be finished. As you get older, you understand that you can wear many “hats”. None are completely who you are. In my TIF for last month, it came down to the line with me being a person who sews and loves all areas. An artist was someone who had something to say,in music,paint,clay,etc. and a craft was something you perfected. I know these are not the truth. Oh, a craft needs to be perfected, anything does, if it is cooking,cleaning,and work. I now feel it is a very honorable term. One who has tried to get the best out of their ability. And in doing so are artists. Just some thoughts.

  5. Coincidence that this subject is up again – I’ve just this week received my new copy of Artfiles (directory of artists in western Sydney) – I’ve had a listing under visual artists since the magazine began.
    Went to look for my entry and it wasn’t there (I’m usually right beside my daughter who has a BA in visual art )
    Then found there is a new category – the C word.
    Yep there I am – in illustrious company mind, with some very talented ceramicists, woodworkers, glass workers –
    I wonder who sorted us!
    and I do have to wonder what makes us less ‘visual’ than the painters and photographers.

    …..maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned the crochet LOL

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