Debate Quotes


  • Argument is to me the air I breathe. Given any proposition, I cannot help believing the other side and defending it.
    o Gertrude Stein
    o First written as an undergraduate at Radcliffe College (1895); “The Radcliffe Manuscripts”, Form and Intelligibility (1949)

  • Ignorantia non est argumentum.
    o Translation: Ignorance is no argument.
    o Baruch Spinoza, Ethica ordine geometrico demonstrata et in quinque parses distincta, Part 1, Addendum; Amsterdam, 1677.
    o 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.


  • It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle it without debate.
    o Joseph Joubert

  • Argument, as usually managed, is the worst sort of conversation, as in books it is generally the worst sort of reading.
    o Jonathan Swift

  • Behind every argument is someone’s ignorance.
    o Louis Brandeis

  • The best way I know of to win an argument is to start by being in the right.
    o Quintin Hogg, Baron Hailsham of St Marylebone

  • Debate is the death of conversation.
    o Emil Ludwig

  • He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak.
    o Michel de Montaigne

  • A long dispute means both parties are wrong.
    o Voltaire

  • Never contend with one that is foolish, proud, positive, testy, or with a superior, or a clown, in matter of argument.
    o Thomas Fuller

  • People generally quarrel because they cannot argue.
    o Gilbert K. Chesterton

  • The purely agitational attitude is not good enough for a detailed consideration of a subject.
    o Jawaharlal Nehru

  • Weak arguments are often thrust before my path; but although they are most unsubstantial, it is not easy to destroy them. There is not a more difficult feat known than to cut through a cushion with a sword.
    o Richard Whately

  • When much dispute has past, We find our tenets just the same as last.
    o Alexander Pope

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