Argumentum ad hominem – Proverbious – Day 45 – Proverbs 9:7-8
Argumentum ad hominem. Woh, latin boy! What you speaky? Okay, if you’re not familiar with logic and the fallacies that exist when trying to make a logical argument, let me introduce you to the Argumentum ad hominem, commonly referred to as ad hominem.
It’s basically the, “you’re ugly”, come back you might receive when you’re making an argument that someone cannot defend. I’m sure I’m doing a little reductio ad absurdum in my description of the argument. But you’ll get the idea. Let’s just say, you are discussing a very hot political topic with someone. Who knows what it is. For now, let’ just say the idea of Government spending too much money as that is a concept we have and will continue to hear about through our study of Proverbs.
So, you’re plugging away quite handsomely at the back and forth with whomever you’re arguing. You point out that all of the people who are giving the government the money to run government can’t get themselves into a comparable state of debt without losing everything. Your opponent argues back that the role government plays is too vital in too many peoples’ lives and can’t be cut back at this point in time. To which you say, yes some of the programs that people have built their lives around may have to begin to fade away, but if we keep spending and borrowing money at this rate we are going to have tax the air we breath to come up with the money.
At this point, your opponent runs out of arguments. So, instead of responding with another logical argument, they respond with, your opinion on debt isn’t valid because you’re ugly and not that smart. It doesn’t have to be about how you look, that’s just what we’re used to seeing. It could be, your opinion doesn’t matter because you’re in debt up to your eyeballs. Which may seem like a valid point, but it’s an attack against one of the arguers and goes off of the topic being argued. (Side note, I’m not trying to make any kind of political stance on the issue of national debt, but you don’t have to do too much reading in the book of Proverbs to discover that debt is a bad idea. Debt makes you a captive of the person who loans you the money.)
But, I’m guessing you’ve had an argument with someone and had this experience. You are having some good and enlightening back and forth about a topic, but then all of a sudden you get blasted for wearing ugly clothes. What the what! Where did that come from. Well, it’s safe to say you’ve probably won the argument at that point because your opponent is out of rebuttal.
Today’s proverb covers that idea, though, I don’t think it only applies to the idea of logical arguments. I think it applies to all of life. We should be careful who we correct as it might have repercussions on our own lives. If you are trying to correct a mocker or fool or wicked person, the chances are pretty good that your correction will be met with a personal attack.
Sure there is the whole idea that they may not know any more so they just get frustrated with you and want to hurl insults in your direction. But there are plenty of other factors to take into account as well. You may be dealing with someone who believes they are very close to perfect. When you point out an area they may need to improve in, you have shattered their personal view of themselves. They think they’re perfect and they think everyone around them thinks that they are perfect. You’re going to get it. You may be dealing with someone who thinks they know everything. If you correct them, then you can expect to get a little abuse or even hatred.
Fools, mockers and wicked people walk a very fragile path. When someone comes along that threatens that walk, they are going to do anything they can to protect themselves and their image. So, just a little advice, don’t waste your breath. If you do, you are quite literally asking for it!
Whoever corrects a mocker is asking for insult;
whoever reproves a wicked person receives abuse.
Do not reprove a mocker or he will hate you;
reprove a wise person and he will love you.