Howard Jacobson, a novelist, critic, and broadcaster; Rowan Pelling, Founding Editor of the Erotic Review and a columnist for Independent; and Taki, a columnist for the London Spectator spoke against the motion.
Intelligence Squared is London's leading forum for live debate, holding regular debates on the crucial issues of the day and inviting the leading intellectual and political lights on the given subject to participate in them. The format of the debates is modelled on the one employed at the Oxford and Cambridge university Unions: a challenging, sharply defined motion; a team of speakers to propose the motion and a like number to oppose it; and a moderator to keep the speakers and the audience in order and force everyone to stick to the issues. After the main speeches and before summation, contributions are asked from the floor: audience participation is a key feature of the occasion, providing a rare opportunity for the public to voice their opinions and to challenge those of the speakers. A vote is taken before the debate begins and then again at the end so as to give a measure, often a very dramatic one, of the extent to which the audience has been swayed by the oratory and arguments of the speakers in the course of the evening.
© and (P)2004 Intelligence Squared Limited
This is the first of the Intelligence Squared series I've listened to and if the others are as thought provoking as this one, I'll be listening to more. At times hilarious and often crude, but this debate provided a variety of intelligent perspectives on the topic. Both sides were well represented and made solid points. A few crackpots, but that just made it all the more fun.
I'd pay the cost of this over most of the similarly priced movies I've seen in the last few years.
As a rule, I hate listening to debates. The opponents never really listen to each other and each keeps repeating their drivel. Plus, the topic didn't interest me that much.
So this debate came as a pleasant surprise - I enjoyed myself immensely. The votes were intelligent, concise, well articulated, to the point and witty.
This was an interesting topic and portions of the debate were very interesting. It is unfortunate that the topic was not better defined as the debators spent as much time arguing over the various definitions of monogamy as they did arguing whether or not it was bad for the soul. It was also clear that the debators on each team had not discussed the topic with one another beforehand as, because of the differing definitions, speakers who were on the same team were indirectly arguing against one another. This was especially evident on the "pro" team where one speaker argued that the human body biologically responded better to having multiple partners while another argued that monogamy was not about fidelity but was about being married only once in a lifetime. If the latter is true, it cancels out the former.
Still, the speakers were amusing and it was worth listening. It's just that the vote was a little anticlimactic since it was clear that the audience (and the debators themselves) didn't have a clear understanding of the question being posed.
While I thought the arguements for and against the proposted topic were well presented and concise, they failed to present a real definition for monogamy. It seemed to confuse the audience between Monogamy, monogamy, and serial monogamy. In the end, it wasn't a bad listen, but I would have felt a lot better about the vote result had they clearly defined just what was monogamy for the audience.
I was so disappointed in this debate. I've been working my way through this series and mostly enjoying it (despite fear and bigotry too often beating out reason and science), but this one was just a huge let-down. It was as if the premise were so absurd that only one of the speakers even thought it necessary to take it very seriously. Except for the last speaker in favor of the proposition, all the speeches could have been drafted with a couple of mouse-clicks, a phone call or two, and a longish cab ride to the debate.
I don't know if this is because we all simply live in a society where monogamy is so ingrained that any challenge of it must come across as baseless or ridiculous. It's sad though, because there are actually really interesting points on both sides of this debate. I have thoughtful friends who have thouroughly researched and reasoned through this debate and have fallen on both sides. Their insights are more thoughtful, more insightful, and more engaging than any of the speakers here.
Jokes are fine and dandy and the topic is sensational, but it is just disappointing when that's all there is. The first speaker, when not getting in his one-liners, did make some interesting evolutionary points, but he failed to tie them to anything. He was uncomfortable with the idea of a soul, let alone what might be good or bad for it. The first speaker opposing the proposition said that we needed to just throw reason out the window and feel and believe in the one and only kind of love she appears to find acceptable. There is true once in a lifetime romance and then there is cheap sex. Period.
I just felt that so much was left undiscussed that I actually walked away with less knowledge than when I started. I've come to expect more from this company.
The thesis: Monogomy is Bad for the Soul. The debators: British intellectuals with wit and gumption. It is presented like a Lincoln-Douglas debate with the proponents taking the position that monogomy is indeed bad for the soul and then the negators who argue that Monogomy is a good thing. I was laughing out loud throughout but the humor does no mask the seriousness of the question. Open your mind and do not accept monogomy simply because it has already been accepted for you. You may accept monogomy on your own terms or, with the help of this sarcasm and truth, you may find that it is more true to your nature to be polygomous. If so, give me a call. (just kidding). Enjoy.
A debate between people who go out of their way to assure us that none of them have ever experienced the slightest hint of non-monogamy themselves. The argument was so dry and disconnected from any real feeling I sometimes doubted they had ever had sex, though they had obviously read many philosophy books. I am particularly mystified by Susie Bright's recommendation, as it is about as far from her engaging style as I can I can imagine. This elucidated nothing for me; it was an attempt to be witty that fell very flat. Lots of hot air about what the spiritual meaning of love and sex should ideally be according to each debater's abstract arguments based on their abstract axioms, nothing about what the actual effects of non-monogamy are on people's lives.
This is worth listening to. A very lively and well reasoned debate onthe subject. Made me think and re-think.
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