The Hinlicky Rule

The Hinlicky Rule

The Hinlicky Rule was cited on this website in the article on Eating Sweet Potatoes, an article on Why Neo-Nazis March in Slovakia, and in the article on Slovak-Gypsy (Roma) Relations.

The Hinlicky Rule Goes:

“You shall not criticize the position of another…until you can state that position with such accuracy, completeness and sympathy, that the opponent himself declares, ‘Yes, I could not have said it better myself!‘ Then, and only then, may you criticize. For then you are engaging a real alternative and advancing a real argument. Otherwise you shed only heat, not light.”

I do not consider the rule to be pertinent only to theology.  Just because you disagree with an argument, dismissing an honest argument from an intellectual opponent is not a thoughtful response to that argument.  In fact, under this rule, and under a general sense of intellectual honesty, does anyone really have any business criticizing anyone else, a Nazi included, until he or she can effectively present a compelling argument in support of an intellectual opponent’s beliefs?

The Hiclicky Rule was put to paper by Professor Paul R. Hinlicky of Roanoke College in Virginia in his Essay “Slovak Lutheran Theology: Reflections on Its Problems and Prospects,” (an insightful essay for anyone of any religious denomination) but has apparently been mentioned regularly in Hinlicky’s classes at Roanoke in Virginia for some years.  A former student of his first told me of the Hinlicky Rule during a discussion and the attitude stuck with me.

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com.  He is from Chicago and spends most of his time travelling Europe and writing.  You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com.  If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email.  You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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