Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Argument

"If men would wound you with injuries, meet them with patience: hasty words rankle the wound, soft language, dresses it, forgiveness cures it, and oblivion takes away the scar. It is more noble by silence to avoid an injury than by argument to overcome it." - Francis Beaumont

"If men wound you with injuries, meet them with patience; hasty words rankle the wound, soft language dresses it, forgiveness cures it, and oblivion takes away the scar. It is more noble by silence to avoid an injury; than by argument to overcome it." - J. Beaumont

"The greatest danger in any argument is that real issues are often clouded by superficial ones, that momentary passions may obscure permanent realities." - Mary Ellen Chase

"Anger is seldom without argument but seldom with a good one." - Charles Montagu Halifax, 1st Earl of Halifax, Lord Halifax

"For... what liberty is; there can no other proof be offered but every man’s own experience, by reflection on himself, and remembering what he useth in his mind, that is, what he himself meaneth when he saith an action... is free. Now he that reflecteth so on himself, cannot but be satisfied... that a free agent is he that can do if he will, and forbear if he will; and that liberty is the absence of external impediments. But to those that out of custom speak not what they conceive, but what they heard, and are not able, or will not take the pains to consider what they think when they hear such words, no argument can be sufficient, because experience and matter of fact are not verified by other men’s arguments, but by every man’s own sense and memory." - Thomas Hobbes

"The greater part of mankind are naturally apt to be affirmative and dogmatical in their opinions; and while they see objects only on one side, and have no idea of any counterpoising argument, they throw themselves precipitately into the principles, to which they are inclined; nor have they any indulgence for those who entertain opposite sentiments. To hesitate or balance perplexes their understanding, checks their passion, and suspends their action." - David Hume

"I [have] often said that the best argument I knew for an immortal life was the existence of a man who deserved one." - William James

"He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that reason is weak." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Obstinacy and heat in argument are surest proofs of folly. Is there anything so stubborn, obstinate, disdainful, contemplative, grave, or serious, as an ass?" - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Truth is congenial to man. Moral truth is then most consummate when, like beauty, it commends itself without argument. The righteous not only does right, but loves to do right." - Francis William Newman

"In a heated argument we lose sight of the truth." - Publius Syrus

"It is only when we haggle with conscience that we have recourse to the subtleties of argument." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"The fundamental argument for freedom of opinion is the doubtfulness of all our beliefs. If we certainly knew the truth, there would be something to be said for teaching it. But in that case it could be taught without invoking authority, by means of its inherent reasonableness." -

"Faith is an excitement and an enthusiasm: it is a condition of intellectual magnificence to which we must cling as to a treasure and not squander [in]... priggish argument." -

"Note how good you feel after you have encouraged someone else. No other argument is necessary to suggest that never miss the opportunity to give encouragement." - George Matthew Adams

"Tolerance of opinions which are thought to be innocuous is as easy, as acts of charity that entail no sacrifice. But the test of a free society is its tolerance of what is deplored or despised by a majority of its members. The argument for such tolerance must be made on the ground that it is useful to the society... that free societies are better fitted to survive than closed societies." - Alan Barth

"The bigot for the most part clings to opinions adopted without investigation, and defended without argument, while he is intolerant of the opinions of others." - Charles Buck, fully Charles Francis Buck

"What is prejudice? An opinion, which is not based upon reason; a judgment, without having heard the argument; a feeling, without being able to trace from whence it came." - Carrie Chapman Catt

"Neither irony nor sarcasm is argument." - Rufus Choate

"Prejudices are rarely overcome by argument; not being founded in reason they cannot be destroyed by logic." - Tyron Edwards

"Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feeling for the strength of their argument. The heated mind resents the chill touch and relentless scrutiny of logic." - William Ewart Gladstone

"In a family argument, if it turns out you are right, apologize at once." - Robert A. Heinlein, fully Robert Anson Heinlein, pen name for Anson MacDonald

"Testimony is like an arrow shot from a long bow; the force of it depends on the strength of the hand that draws it. Argument is like an arrow from a cross-bow, which has equal force though shot by a child." -

"We are a great deal more certain that our will is free than that everything that happens is bound to have a cause. This being the case, could we not for once in a way reverse the argument, and say: our ideas of cause and effect must be very inaccurate, for were they right, our will could not be free?" - Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

"It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man by argument." - William Gibbs McAdoo

"Necessity is the argument of tyrants, it is the creed of slaves." -

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." -

"In matters of great concern, and which must be done, there is no surer argument of a weak mind than irresolution - to be undetermined where the case is plain, and the necessity urgent. To be always intending to live a new life, but never to find time to set about it, this is as if a man should put off eating, drinking, and sleeping, from one day and night to another, till he is starved and destroyed." -

"The history of Christendom would have been far happier if we all had remembered one rule of intelligence - not to believe a thing more strongly at the end of a bitter argument than at the beginning, not to believe it with the energy of the opposition rather than one's own." - Charles Williams

"Each of us carries about a great many 'truths' with which we are not only comfortable but which we consider sacrosanct. These 'truisms' can be things we learned at our parent's knee... idealities we have nurtured over the years... or prejudices we have hugged to ourselves over a period of time. More often than not, our personal convictions take precedence over antithetical arguments. This is why most people are not good listeners. They hear another person's thesis but simultaneously they form an argument to back their own belief. The result is that they really aren't listening. They are simply hearing. And they mentally counter what it is they choose to hear." - Greta Woodrew, Pseud. for Greta Andron Smolowe

"That God exists can be proved in five Ways: The first and most evident Way is the argument from Motion… The second Way is from consideration of efficient Causes… The third Way is taken from consideration of the possible and the necessary… The fourth Way is the consideration of the grades of stages which are found in all things… The fifth Way is the consideration of the government of things." - Saint Thomas Aquinas, aka Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis or Doctor Universalis

"The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter." - Winston Churchill, fully Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill

"Moral ambiguity creates mental cramps of various sorts, which lead to reflection, discussion, and argument… Morality resists theoretical unification under either a set of special-purpose rules or single general-purpose rule or principle, such as the categorical imperative or the principle of unity. If this is right, and if it is right because the ends of moral life are plural and heterogeneous in kind and because our practices of moral education rightly reflect this, then we have some greater purchase on why the project of finding a single theoretically satisfying moral theory has failed." - Owen Flanagan

"Silence is argument carried out by other means." - Che Guevara, fully Ernesto “Che” Guevara

"Truth springs from argument amongst friends." - David Hume

"The advocate can make no greater mistake than to ignore or attempt to conceal the weak points in his case. The most effective strategy is at an early stage of the argument to invite attention to your weakest point before the court has discovered it, then to meet it with the best answers at your disposal, to deal with all the remaining points with equal candor and to end with as powerful a presentation of your strongest point as you are capable of making." -

"If you want to find out how well you are living up to your spiritual values and higher principles, pay close attention to how you behave in the middle of an argument or a tense moment involving someone you live with, work with, or are in love with." - Mordecai Finley

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." -

"Everyone is prejudiced in favor of his own powers of discernment, and will always find an argument most convincing if it leads to the conclusion he has reached for himself; everyone must then be given something he can grasp and recognize as his own idea." -

"Most religions are absolutist. Claims to revelation militate against rational argument and compromise. In this sense all religions contain totalitarian possibilities; for totalitarianism, which welds the state into a single body “knit together as one man” is really the religious impulse, the worship of leadership and ideology, the cult of Person or Book, directed towards secular ends." - Malise Ruthven

"It is easy to be honest enough not to be hanged. To be really honest means to subdue one’s prepossessions, ideals - stating things fairly, not humoring your argument - doing justice to your enemies... making confession whether you can afford it or not; refusing unmerited praise; looking painful truths in the face." - Aubrey de Vere, fully Aubrey Albericus de Vere NULL

"Euclid taught me that without assumptions there is no proof. Therefore, in any argument, examine the assumptions." - Eric Temple Bell

"Rudeness is better than any argument; it totally eclipses intellect." - Arthur Schopenhauer

"Thou art/ - I am? - why argue? - Being is. Keep still and be. Death will not still the mind. Nor argument, nor hopes of after-death. This world the battle-ground, yourself the foe yourself must master. Eager the mind to seek. Yet oft astray, causing its own distress then crying for relief, as though some God barred from it jealously the Bliss it sought but would not face. Till in the end, all battles fought, all earthly loves abjured, dawn in the East, there is no other way but to be still. In stillness then to find the giants all were windmills, all the strife self-made, unreal; even he that strove a fancied being, as when that good knight woke from delirium and with a loud cry rendered his soul to God. Mind, then, or soul? Break free from subtle words. Only be still, lay down the mid, submit, and Being then is Bliss, Bliss Consciousness: and That you are." - Arthur W Osborn

"Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; argument is an exchange of ignorance."" - Author Unknown NULL

"If you think your belief is based upon reason, you will support it by argument rather than by persecution, and will abandon it if the argument goes against you. But if your belief is based upon faith, you will realize that argument is useless, and will therefore resort to force either in the form of persecution or by stunting or distorting the minds of the young in what is called 'education.'" - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

"Our senses will not admit anything extreme. Too much noise confuses us, too much light dazzles us, too great distance or nearness prevents vision, too great prolixity or brevity weakens an argument, too much pleasure gives pain, too much accordance annoys." - Blaise Pascal

"The soundest argument will produce no more conviction in an empty head than the most superficial declamation; a feather and a guinea fall with equal velocity in a vacuum." - Charles Caleb Colton

"Be calm in argument; for fierceness makes error a fault, and truth discourtesy. Why should I feel another man’s mistakes more than his sicknesses or poverty? In love I should: but anger is not love, nor wisdom either; therefore gently move. Calmness is great advantage; he that lets another chafe may warm him at his fire, mark all his wand’rings and enjoy his frets, as cunning fencers suffer heat to tire." - George Herbert

"Against the formidable array of cumulative evidence for Determinism, there is but one argument of real force: the immediate affirmation of consciousness in the moment of deliberate action." - Henry Sidgwick