The Making of Arguments eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 344 pages of information about The Making of Arguments.

5.  Find a proposition in which the two sides to a debate might in good faith pass each other without meeting.  Make it over so that the issue would be unavoidable.

6.  Frame a proposition in which the burden of proof would not be on the affirmative.  Make it over so that the burden of proof would fall on the affirmative.

7.  Draw up a scheme for a debate on one of the propositions in Exercise 4, with a tentative assignment of points to three debaters on a side.

8.  Draw up a set of instructions to judges for an intercollegiate or interscholastic debate, so framed as to produce a decision on the points which seem to you the most important.

9.  Prepare yourself for a five-minute extemporaneous speech on a subject on which you have written an argument.

10.  Name three questions on which you could not, without violence to your convictions, argue on more than one side.





This is the first of three lectures which make a continuous argument, which were delivered in New York.  September 18, 20, and 22, 1876.  It should therefore be regarded as the introductory part of the argument; and as a matter of fact it does not get to Huxley’s positive proof, but is occupied with disposing of the other theories.  This refutation finished, Huxley was then at liberty to go ahead with the affirmative argument, as he indicates in the last paragraph of the lecture.

The argument is a notable piece of reasoning on a scientific subject, in terms which make it intelligible to all educated men.  When Huxley spoke, the heat which had been kindled by the first announcement of the theory of evolution in Darwin’s “Origin of Species” was still blazing; and there were many church people who held that the theory was subversive of religion, without giving themselves the trouble to understand it.  This timid frame of mind explains Hurley’s mode of approach to the subject.

We live in and form part of a system of things of immense diversity and perplexity, which we call Nature; and it is a matter of the deepest interest to all of us that we should form just conceptions of the constitution of that system and of its past history.  With relation to this universe, man is, in extent, little more than a mathematical point:  in duration but a fleeting shadow:  he is a mere reed shaken in the winds of force.  But, as Pascal long ago remarked, although a mere reed, he is a thinking reed; and in virtue of that wonderful capacity of thought, he has the power of framing for himself a symbolic conception of the universe, which, although doubtless highly imperfect and inadequate as a picture of the great whole, is yet sufficient to serve him as a chart

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