The Aim of Argument

The Aim of Argument March 6, 2016


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  • Ian

    Paraphrasing J S Mill: Every reasonable person will admit that some of the things they believe may be false, but nobody knows which things they are (or else they would no longer believe them). It is only through argument with contrary views that we can hope to discover which of our beliefs are mistaken.

    • So if I want to turn that into a meme, should I quote you or Mill?

      • Ian

        I quoted it for years saying it was from “On Liberty” by Mill, where I thought I’d read it – but when I reread it I couldn’t find the exact bit I’d remembered. So I don’t know. With my name it is definitely plagiarised, but it might be quite a way off a Mill ‘quote’ exactly. “after J S Mill” perhaps?

        • This bit from Chapter II of “On Liberty” may be close?

          “However unwillingly a person who has a strong opinion may admit the possibility that his opinion may be false, he ought to be moved by the consideration that however true it may be, if it is not fully, frequently, and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living truth.”

          • Ian

            I think probably this one, and layered onto that various other things he is saying in that passage. My version has a nice ring to it though 🙂

            Fascinating that, even though I am very very loosely paraphrasing, no more than precising his argument, I instinctively remembered it in a pastiche of his writing style.

            Doesn’t solve the issue of how to cite it, though.

          • Let’s just meme your paraphrase, then.

          • I agree, let’s meme your words, and in the post in which I share it I can say that the point is inspired by Mill.

            So the next question is this: how do you want to be credited for your words in the meme, Ian?

          • Ian

            Sorry, I missed this because it was replying to Beau, either Ian or my full name is fine. If it is in an image, it won’t affect internet searches.

        • Or this?

          “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion.”