Debate is an art. The qualities that people generally associate with art are present in debate. Debate is arguing, but it is also so much more than that. It encompasses research, persuasion, and often public speaking all in one activity. Being able to debate skillfully is not something that every person can do. It takes a lot of practice to do well, just like drawing and playing an instrument. It isn’t for everyone either. Not everyone enjoys debating, which is like how not everyone likes to draw.
I believe that debate is an art because it is something that requires skill, talent, and a bit of panache to really succeed. That is what art is to most people, but also to most people, art is bland. It doesn’t encapsulate much besides painting, sculptures, writing, or music. Yet, the qualities that I listed for someone to be able to debate well are the same ones needed to do any of those forms of art well. So why not include it under the definition of art?
Some people may not agree that debate is an art because it’s not something that they’re used to being known as art, or something that they are used to being around at all. For most people, in their daily lives they only encounter debate when in an argument themselves; maybe they’ll watch the presidential debate every four years. When a person isn’t exposed to something, how are they supposed to know if something is an art or not? The answer is that they cannot know. I would suggest to the people who disagree with my claim to try to watch political debates as often as possible and to read up on how to perfectly craft an argument. If they are still unsatisfied with the idea that debate is a form of art, I would ask them to open up their mind a little more and try to see the differing perspectives that others hold.
Debate can be as entertaining as a performance if you see it done correctly. The way in which someone’s voice sounds, trying to convince you that they are on the right side and you should join it, can be thrilling. I remember when I first heard an excellent debater, not some politician, but a kid that’s a year older than myself and who was sixteen at the time. I was at my first big Model United Nations conference and this boy who goes to my school was a major speaker in the general assembly. He was able to address the crowd for longer than the usual speaking time for a speech, which was enough time for myself to become awestruck. I didn’t know that a person could speak as well as he is able to until that moment. Most people probably have never heard someone speak like that and maybe they never will, but when it happens, they will know that what they just experienced was art.
Art is something that is appealing to the senses. The visual sense is appealed to by a painting or sculpture, whereas for hearing it could be a violin solo. The art of cooking appeals to the senses of taste and smell. The art of debate? It appeals to the intellectual sense in people. In other words, it appeals to the mind.
While the mind can be stimulated by other forms of art, none other is as appealing for stimulation as the art of debate. It makes people think and attempt to understand the concepts being argued between the speakers. The audience is expected to make up their own opinion on the topic. To do that and to truly experience debate, the audience must pay attention to the analyses posed by the debaters. It is necessary for the people to be able to wrap their heads (or minds) around the ideas to know what is actually being told to them. The viewer is able to feel like they are participating in the activity of debate without actually debating. Most traditional art may be able to move people to certain feelings or inspiration, but few other forms are able to let the audience feel participatory in the art.
A form of art that is often overlooked is debate. It doesn’t fit into the traditional mold set by centuries of artists, but rather one of new forms that is being created as the masses are taking back the definition of art. Debate requires talent, skill, and many other qualities that you need to succeed for any other type of art. Debaters can produce emotional feelings in the members of their audience and inspire them, too, just like any other piece of art. The way in which it is able to engage audience members without making them take part in the key aspect of the art-speaking to the audience-is incredibly unique and cannot be done by other forms of art. Debate is one of the most genuine forms of art and it is impossible to deny that it is, in fact, art.
Author’s Note: This piece was an assignment for my AP Language and Composition class. The purpose was to argue why something that I do in my life is art. My topic was debate, as clearly shown.