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Arguments

  • Much waste of words and of thought too would be avoided if disputants would always begin with a clear statement of the question, and not proceed to argue till they had agreed upon what it was that they were arguing about.

  • Neurotic quarrels always have the same theme-song: Hate me and get it over with.

  • ... what is unreasonable is irrefutable.

  • ... the adjuration to 'Be realistic' merely means 'Agree with me, and think the way I think.'

  • To talk over a quarrel, with its inevitable accompaniment of self-justification, is too much like handling cobwebs to be very successful.

  • ... arguing with Lucy was like trying to sew with no knot in your thread.

  • ... when a person implores you to be reasonable what he means is that you should speed round forthwith to his point of view.

  • Rarely an hour passed that they didn't argue about something. They had lived together for so many years that they mistook their arguments for conversations.

  • During a quarrel, to have said too little may be mended; to have said too much, not always.

  • A careful blending of sarcasm, irony, and teasing, bickering has its own distinctive cadence and rhythm and is as difficult to master as French, Spanish, or any elective second language. Like Chinese, the fine points of bickering can be discerned in the subtle rise and fall of the voice. If not practiced properly, bickering can be mistaken for its less sophisticated counterpart: whining.

  • You were in a mood to quarrel. Please inform me once the inclination passes.

  • And Mr. Shelby, not knowing any other way of enforcing his ideas, raised his voice, — a mode of arguing very convenient and convincing, when a gentleman is discussing matters of business with his wife.

  • He was gret on texts, the doctor was. When he hed a p'int to prove, he'd jest go through the Bible, and drive all the texts ahead o' him like a flock o' sheep; and then, if there was a text that seemed agin him, why, he'd come out with his Greek and Hebrew, and kind o' chase it round a spell, jest as ye see a feller chase a contrary bell-wether, and make him jump the fence arter the rest. I tell you, there wa'n't no text in the Bible that could stand agin the doctor when his blood was up.

  • In time they quarrelled, of course, and about an abstraction — as young people often do, as mature people almost never do.

    • Willa Cather,
    • "Coming, Aphrodite!" Youth and the Bright Medusa ()
  • Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.

  • Do not fear the ones who argue, but rather those who are evasive.

  • Words began fights and words ended them.

  • The quarrel between them was a terrible treadmill they mounted together and tramped round and round until they were wearied out or in despair.

  • I'll not listen to reason ... Reason always means what some one else has got to say.

  • We might as well give up the fiction / That we can argue any view. / For what in me is pure Conviction / Is simple Prejudice in you.

  • The children worked on each other like two indestructible pieces of sand-paper.

  • It is very difficult in quarreling to be certain in either one what the other one is remembering. It is very often astonishing to each one quarreling to find out what the other one was remembering for quarreling. Mostly in quarreling not any one is finding out what the other one is remembering for quarreling, what the other one is remembering from quarreling.

  • For forty-seven years they had been married. How deep back the stubborn, gnarled roots of the quarrel reached, no one could say — but only now, when tending to the needs of others no longer shackled them together, the roots swelled up visible, split the earth between them, and the tearing shook even to the children, long since grown.

  • Arguments can always be found to turn desire into policy.

  • It takes two flints to make a fire.

  • To argue without knowledge is like trying to weave without thread.

    • Elizabeth Peters,
    • "The Locked Tomb Mystery," in Marilyn Wallace, ed., Sisters in Crime ()
  • ... we are always on the side of those who speak last ...

    • Madame de Sévigné,
    • 1671, Letters of Madame de Sévigné to Her Daughter and Her Friends, vol. 1 ()
  • When disagreements come our way / We just don't ever fight. / We calmly talk things over / To find out why I'm right.

  • They buried the hatchet, but in a shallow, well-marked grave.

  • ... I was an adult before I began to learn that there is a difference between a conversation and an argument.

  • Always remember, me dear, whether you're listening to a tale or telling one: Every penny piece that's struck has two sides to it.

  • Arguments could fill a marriage like water, running through everything, always, with no taste or color but lots of noise.

  • ... her arguments are like elephants. They squash you flat.

  • Bad quarrels come when two people are wrong. Worse quarrels come when two people are right.

  • In dialogue, there is opposition, yes, but no head-on collision. Smashing heads does not open minds.

  • Public discourse requires making an argument for a point of view, not having an argument — as in having a fight.

  • The argument culture urges us to approach the world — and the people in it — in an adversarial frame of mind. It rests on the assumption that opposition is the best way to get anything done: The best way to discuss an idea is to set up a debate; the best way to cover news is to find spokespeople who express the most extreme, polarized views and present them as 'both sides'; the best way to settle disputes is litigation that pits one party against the other; the best way to begin an essay is to attack someone; and the best way to show you're really thinking is to criticize.

  • This book is about a pervasive warlike atmosphere that makes us approach public dialogue, and just about anything we need to accomplish, as if it were a fight. It is a tendency in Western culture in general, and in the United States in particular, that has a long history and a deep, thick, and far-ranging root system. It has served us well in many ways but in recent years has become so exaggerated that it is getting in the way of solving our problems. Our spirits are corroded by living in an atmosphere of unrelenting contention — an argument culture.

  • A bone of contention in the Drew household was always picked bare, being brought out at every meal and worried over with snarls and snappings.

  • Making an issue of a little thing is one of the surest ways to spoil happiness.

  • The better you hear a thing put, the more certain you are there's another view.

  • The only person who listens to both sides of an argument is the fellow in the next apartment.

  • We mistakenly feel that the point of arguing is to win. And it's not. The point of arguing is to argue.

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

  • The most fundamental requirement in constructing a persuasive message is to select arguments that are consistent with the beliefs and values of the audience.

  • The days are too short, even for love; how can there ever be time for quarrelling?

  • There was a strange kind of comfort in misunderstandings and differences that were old enough to have lost their teeth.

  • ... don't argue what you don't believe in. Rule number one, in law and in life.

  • If quarrelling be really the renewal of love, theirs had been renewed once a day at all events, and frequently much oftener.

  • If two people are to resolve their differences, they first have to find out what those differences are. Each has to be able to hear what the other one wants.

  • You only really get to know people when you've had a jolly good row with them.

  • They were soul mates, my mother and father. They claimed to adore each other, as if the word 'adore' meant 'argue with ceaselessly.'

  • The best way to win an argument is to begin by being right ...

    • Jill Ruckelshaus,
    • in Frederic A. Birmingham, "Jill Ruckelshaus: Lady of Liberty," The Saturday Evening Post ()
  • So many pleasing episodes of one's life are spoiled by shouting. You never heard of an unhappy marriage unless the neighbors have heard it first.

    • Lillian Russell,
    • title essay (1914), in Djuna Barnes, I Could Never Be Lonely Without a Husband ()
  • Don't try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.

  • Unfortunately civility is hard to codify or legislate, but you know it when you see it. It's possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

  • Arguing with Owen with like fencing with a bag of wool.

  • When one person's mad and the other isn't, the mad one always wins.

  • The Beatties were always arguing, it gave them an interest in life ...

  • Empathy is the biggest negotiation tool. I must try to understand where the other person's coming from to make points for my side.

    • Lee Ducat,
    • in Sherry Suib Cohen, Tender Power ()
  • ... do not engage in any paper wars. You will convince nobody and arrive at no satisfaction yourself.

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • 1853, in Lynn McDonald, ed., Florence Nightingale: An Introduction to Her Life and Family ()
  • Never wrestle with a pig; you both get dirty, and the pig likes it.

  • There is nothing wrong with people that reasoning with them won't aggravate!

  • Never give anyone an ultimatum unless you are prepared to lose.

  • My parents argued more than I remembered, about money and all the little things that disguise the truth that you are still arguing about money.

  • Remember, it takes two to make an argument. The one who is wrong is the one who will be doing most of the talking.

  • When blithe to argument I come, / Though armed with facts, and merry, / May Providence protect me from / The fool as adversary, / Whose mind to him a kingdom is / Where reason lacks dominion, / Who calls conviction prejudice / And prejudice opinion.

  • ... she's going to be a fine lawyer one day. I hope. If that girl doesn't get paid to argue, she's not going to get paid at all.