Quodlibet

Rhetorical Dodgers

by S. M. Hutchens

Reading a recent attempt of one of Rod Dreher's many detractors to discredit The Benedict Option, it occurred to me that one of the favorite tricks of rhetorical dodgers (typically in the attempt to influence bad thinkers who think they're good ones) is putting forward the notion that "the matter at hand is complex; therefore my opponent's position is wrong because it's simplistic, and I am both cleverer and righter because I take more into account."

An argument, however, is not right or wrong because it covers more or less ground (all ground is infinite)—it is right or wrong for taking, or failing to take, the proper measure of reality. This underlies the Lord's commentaries on the mind of the child, the lesson of "The Emperor's New Clothes," Doctor Johnson's refutation of Bishop Berkeley (as he understood him), and the corollary of St. Ambrose, "God did not see fit to save his people by philosophy."

S. M. Hutchens is a senior editor.

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