‘No, we were only coming to call you away, and I thank you,’ she said, awarding him a smile as if it were a gift, ‘for having come. What’s all this love of arguing? No one ever convinces anyone else.’
‘Yes, true,’ said Levin, ‘it most often happens that you argue hotly only because you can’t understand what precisely your opponent wants to prove.’
Levin had often noticed in arguments between the most intelligent people that after enormous efforts, an enormous number of logical subtleties and words, the arguers would finally come to the awareness that what they had spent so long struggling to prove to each other had been known to them long, long before, from the beginning of the argument, but that they loved different things and therefore did not want to name what they loved, so as not to be challenged. He had often felt that sometimes during an argument you would understand what your opponent loves, and suddenly come to love the same thing yourself, and agree all at once, and then all reasonings would fall away as superfluous; and sometimes it was the other way round: you would finally say what you yourself love, for the sake of which you are inventing your reasonings, and if you happened to say it well and sincerely, the opponent would suddenly agree and stop arguing. That was the very thing he wanted to say.
She wrinkled her forehead, trying to understand. But as soon as he began to explain, she understood.
‘I understand: you must find out what he’s arguing for, what he loves, and then you can ...’
She had fully divined and expressed his poorly expressed thought. Levin smiled joyfully: so striking did he find the transition from an intricate, verbose argument with his brother and Pestsov to this laconic and clear, almost wordless, communication of the most complex thoughts.
Shcherbatsky left them, and Kitty, going over to an open card table, sat down, took a piece of chalk in her hand and began to trace radiating circles on the new green cloth.
They resumed the conversation that had gone on at dinner about the freedom and occupations of women. Levin agreed with Darya Alexandrovna’s opinion that a girl who did not get married could find feminine work for herself in her family. He supported it by saying that no family can do without a helper, that in every family, poor or rich, there are and must be nannies, hired or from the family.
‘No,’ said Kitty, blushing, but looking at him all the more boldly with her truthful eyes, ‘a girl can be in such a position that she cannot enter a family without humiliation, while she herself...’
He understood from a hint.
‘Oh! yes!’ he said, ‘yes, yes, yes, you’re right, you’re right!’
And he understood all that Pestsov had been maintaining at dinner about women’s freedom, only because he saw the fear of spinsterhood and humiliation in Kitty’s heart, and, loving her, he felt that fear and humiliation and at once renounced his arguments.
—Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, p. 273