The Excellence of Yin Rhetoric in Public Discourse

Eric Horowitz suggests that using weaker arguments can be more persuasive. What he suggests will prove true to those who consider it carefully.

For embarrassing those who are to be persuaded, accusing them of moral failure or blindness, brings an adverse reaction. What will dignify the public discourse, it will appear, is a revival of the yin mode of speaking, whose quiet grace is an instrument of peace. While people have lately taken to a rhetorical style of quick reaction and offence, even those who do not speak subtly – who, like the Grecians, are extraverted in speech – are capable of what the ancients called captatio benevolentiae. The holy Scriptures have commended this very way of speaking: Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Each can save the face of the other, and not by holding his peace; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Then, rather than the mouth being opened to inferiors, the ears will be those of superior men – let the hearer understand – and the air will be filled with a more exquisite music, delicate but limpid as a cooling stream.

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