Argument, in philosophy and logic, is an attempt to persuade someone of something, by giving reasons or evidence for accepting a particular conclusion. The general structure of an argument in a natural language is that of premises (typically in the form of propositions, statements or sentences) in support of a claim: the conclusion. Many arguments can also be formulated in a formal language. An argument in a formal language shows the logical form of the natural language arguments obtained by its interpretations.
- Where we desire to be informed 'tis good to contest with men above ourselves; but to confirm and establish our opinions, 'tis best to argue with judgments below our own, that the frequent spoils and victories over their reasons may settle in ourselves an esteem and confirmed opinion of our own.
- Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici (1642), Part I, VI.
- "Or he might say: 'Whereas some recluses and brahmins, while living on the food offered by the faithful, engage in wrangling argumentation, (saying to one another): "You don't understand this doctrine and discipline. I am the one who understands this doctrine and discipline." — "How can you understand this doctrine and discipline?" — "You're practising the wrong way. I'm practising the right way." — "I'm being consistent. You're inconsistent." — "What should have been said first you said last, what should have been said last you said first." — "What you took so long to think out has been confuted." — "Your doctrine has been refuted. You're defeated. Go, try to save your doctrine, or disentangle yourself now if you can" — the recluse Gotama abstains from such wrangling argumentation.'
- And there began a lang digression
About the lords o' the creation.
- Robert Burns, The Twa Dogs (1786).
- He'd undertake to prove, by force
Of argument, a man's no horse.
He'd prove a buzzard is no fowl,
And that a Lord may be an owl,
A calf an Alderman, a goose a Justice,
And rooks, Committee-men or Trustees.
- Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part I (1663-64), Canto I, line 71.
- Whatever Sceptic could inquire for,
For every why he had a wherefore.
- Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part I (1663-64), Canto I, line 131.
- I've heard old cunning stagers
Say, fools for arguments use wagers.
- Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part II (1664), Canto I, line 297.
- 'Twas blow for blow, disputing inch by inch,
For one would not retreat, nor t'other flinch.
- The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
- He whose will and desire in conversation is to establish his own opinion, even though what he says is true, should recognize that he is sick with the devil's disease.
- Johannes Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, as translated by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore (Holy Transfiguration Monastery: 1959), § 4:48, p. 37
- A knock-down argument; 'tis but a word and a blow.
- John Dryden, Amphitryon (1690), Act I, scene 1.
- Reproachful speech from either side
The want of argument supplied;
They rail, reviled; as often ends
The contests of disputing friends.
- John Gay, Fables (1727), Ravens, Sextan and Earth Worm, Part II, line 117.
- His conduct still right with his argument wrong.
- Oliver Goldsmith, Retaliation (1774), line 46.
- In arguing, too, the parson own'd his skill,
For even though vanquished he could argue still.
- Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village (1770), line 211.
- I find you want me to furnish you with argument and intellects too. No, sir, these, I protest you, are too hard for me.
- Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), Chapter VII.
- Be calm in arguing; for fierceness makes
Error a fault, and truth discourtesy.
- George Herbert, The Temple (1633), The Church Porch, Stanza 52.
- The brilliant chief, irregularly great,
Frank, haughty, rash—the Rupert of debate.
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The New Timon (1846), Part I.
- Abba Paul the Barber and his brother Timothy lived in Scetis. They often used to argue. So Abba Paul said, 'How long shall we go on like this?' Abba Timothy said to him, 'I suggest you take my side of the argument and in my turn I will take your side when you oppose me.' They spent the rest of their days in this practice.
- Abba Timothy and Abba Paul the Barber in Sayings of the Desert Fathers, as translated by Benedicta Ward (Cistercian Publications: 1975), p. 204
- The very nature of deliberation and argumentation is opposed to necessity and self-evidence, since no one deliberates where the solution is necessary or argues argues against what is self-evident.
- Chaïm Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, The New Rhetoric, page 1 (translated by John Wilkinson and Purcell Weaver).
- Like doctors thus, when much dispute has past,
We find our tenets just the same at last.
- Alexander Pope, Moral Essays (1731-35), Epistle III, line 15.
- The first the Retort Courteous; the second the Quip Modest; the third the Reply Churlish; the fourth the Reproof Valiant; the fifth the Countercheck Quarrelsome; the sixth the Lie with Circumstance; the seventh the Lie Direct.
- And sheath'd their swords for lack of argument.
- There is occasions and causes why and wherefore in all things.
- For they are yet but ear-kissing arguments.
- She hath prosperous art
When she will play with reason and discourse,
And well she can persuade.
- Ignorantia non est argumentum.
- Translation: Ignorance is no argument.
- Baruch Spinoza, Ethica ordine geometrico demonstrata et in quinque parses distincta, Part 1, Addendum; Amsterdam, 1677.
- Originally used to oppose traditional theological views that everything exists and is determined by divine intervention because no other plausible reason or explanation is seen.
- Ah, don't say that you agree with me. When people agree with me I always feel that I must be wrong.
- Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist (1891), Part II. Also in Lady Windermere's Fan, Act II. Founded on a saying of Phocion.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 41-43.
- Much might be said on both sides.
- Joseph Addison, Spectator, No. 122.
- I am bound to furnish my antagonists with arguments, but not with comprehension.
- The noble Lord (Stanley) was the Prince Rupert to the Parliamentary army—his valour did not always serve his own cause.
- Benjamin Disraeli, speech, in the House of Commons (April, 1844).
- How agree the kettle and the earthen pot together?
- Ecclesiasticus, XIII. 2.
- The daughter of debate
That still discord doth sow.
- Queen Elizabeth, of Mary Queen of Scots. Sonnet in Percy's Reliques, Volume I, Book V. No. XV. From Puttenham's Arte of English Poesie. London, 1589.
- I always admired Mrs. Grote's saying that politics and theology were the only two really great subjects.
- William Ewart Gladstone, letter to Lord Rosebery. Sept. 16, 1880. See Morley's Life of Gladstone, Book VIII, Chapter I.
- Nay, if he take you in hand, sir, with an argument,
He'll bray you in a mortar.
- Ben Jonson, The Alchemist, Act II, scene 1.
- Seria risu risum, seriis discutere.
- In arguing one should meet serious pleading with humor, and humor with serious pleading.
- Gorgias Leontinus. Endorsed by Aristotle in his Rhetoric, Book III, Chapter XVIII.
- There is no good in arguing with the inevitable. The only argument available with an east wind is to put on your overcoat.
- James Russell Lowell, Democracy and Other Addresses, Democracy.
- Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same door wherein I went.
- Omar Khayyam, Rubaiyat. FitzGerald's translation, Stanza 27.
- Discors concordia.
- Agreeing to differ.
- Ovid, Metamorphoses. I. 433.
- Demosthenes, when taunted by Pytheas that all his arguments "smelled of the lamp," replied, "Yes, but your lamp and mine, my friend, do not witness the same labours."
- Plutarch, Life of Demosthenes. See also his Life of Timoleon.
- In some places he draws the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument.
- Dr. Porson, of Gibbon's Decline and Fall, quoted in the Letters to Travis.
- In argument
Similes are like songs in love:
They must describe; they nothing prove.
- Matthew Prior, Alma, Canto III.
- One single positive weighs more,
You know, than negatives a score.
- Matthew Prior, Epistle to Fleetwood Shepherd.
- Soon their crude notions with each other fought;
The adverse sect denied what this had taught;
And he at length the amplest triumph gain'd,
Who contradicted what the last maintain'd.
- Matthew Prior, Solomon, Book I, line 717.
- Agreed to differ.
- Robert Southey, Life of Wesley.
- You can't win an argument by being right, either
- Barry, Four Lions (2010)