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.
  • "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.
  • 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.
  • Whatever Sceptic could inquire for,
    For every why he had a wherefore.
  • I've heard old cunning stagers
    Say, fools for arguments use wagers.
  • 'Twas blow for blow, disputing inch by inch,
    For one would not retreat, nor t'other flinch.
  • When Bishop Berkeley said, "there was no matter,"
    And proved it—'twas no matter what he said.
  • A knock-down argument; 'tis but a word and a blow.
  • 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.
  • In arguing, too, the parson own'd his skill,
    For even though vanquished he could argue still.
  • I find you want me to furnish you with argument and intellects too. No, sir, these, I protest you, are too hard for me.
  • Be calm in arguing; for fierceness makes
    Error a fault, and truth discourtesy.
  • I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.
  • The brilliant chief, irregularly great,
    Frank, haughty, rash—the Rupert of debate.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 41-43.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • One single positive weighs more,
    You know, than negatives a score.
  • 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.
  • ...You can't win an argument by being right, either

See also

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