Alex (yakshaver) wrote,

Pithy Latin phrase?

Those of you who've studied Latin and/or Rhetoric: When Foo argues for Bar, and Quux replies by making negative statements about Foo, we say that Quux's argument is ad hominem — a handy term for an all too common phenomenon.

Now imagine that Foo argues for Bar, and Quux responds by making negative statements about Bar — i.e. Quux responds to the substance of Foo's argument with a substantive argument against it. Wonderful! This is civil discourse.

But then Foo responds as if Quux had attacked them personally.

Such taking of a substantive disagreement as if it were a personal attack is common. More common than actual ad hominem attacks.

My question for you is:

Is there a pithy Latin phrase for this phenomenon?

I've seen many discussions fail because of this. And even more never happen from fear of it. (I'm thinking particularly of workplace discussions here — not least because I first became aware of this phenomenon many years ago at a former employer.)

Don't take criticism personally is a useful thought to keep in mind when someone disagrees with you. But a pithier phrase would be better — especially one in Latin or Greek: Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.* You don't actually see very many ad hominem arguments among adults, and I suspect part of the reason is that we have that convenient name for them. (Also because we all learned very young that only losers engage in ad hominem arguments.)

So: Anyone know of anything? If not, is your Latin up to coining a new rhetorical term?

* Everything sounds better in Latin.

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