alan wrote:Pointless quarrels, sure. Legitimate debates can be useful.
Good point. There are certainly some pointless quarrels over trivial things that are not worth debating, but more serious matters can be important. An example could be a village chief who wants to order the sacrificial killing of 1,000 goats to appease the gods so that the harvest will be good. Another person might come and debate with the chief and encourage him to dig irrigation channels so to ensure the harvest will be good. Ignoring such a debate or giving in to the chief would result in the needless killing of a 1,000 goats.
An example from the time of Buddha:
Once there was a Brahmin who was planning a large sacrifice which consisted of 3,500 animals
of cattle and goats. The Buddha explains to him that a bloodless sacrifice is much better, such as
giving gifts of generosity and practicing the precepts. He explains about a king who practices
sacrifices of generosity for his people and how "in this sacrifice, Brahmin, no bulls were slain,
no goats, or sheep, no cocks and pigs, nor were various living beings subject to slaughter
Digha Nikaya 5.18