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Argument from Analogy: Sound of One Hand Clapping

“The purpose of argument should be understanding; the aim should be the search for truth. Arguing is more complex than a contest of strength.” — Critical Thinking

What is the sound of one hand clapping? Is it nonsense? Is this a nonsensical question? Is there an answer?

1999, Honolulu: I asked my Friday Karate class of adults and children this question. For a year, it gave me reason to make everyone do push ups. Before I left, I offered my answer, “peace.” Since we were in a Karate class and Fridays were Kumite (sparring) days, I used the simple analogy of some bully looking for a fight. This bully is running around here and there, swinging his arms about, this way and that way. For the traditional hand clapping, there needs to be some coordination, some cooperation or collaboration between two hands in order for them to meet. Upon meeting, there is a crash accompanied with sound. Sometimes we might consider the sound created by clapping hands is created out of a conflict of direction; one hand intending to go right and the other intending to go left. So, this bully in the parking lot is swinging around looking for conflict. Without meeting conflict, then you only have the wind blowing or this bully blowing hot air. Avoid this bully, and avoid conflict. The best karateka, martial artist, or person wins the fight before it begins. The only fight won, is the fight never begun.

One hand clapping is something that cannot be heard with the ear. It is a concept that must be intrinsically understood; without being explained. It is akin to the sound of the snow falling or the stars above. For me, the sound of one hand clapping is peace, no conflict. The answer to this question however, resides within you. The objective of the question is to provoke contemplation and then understanding.


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