From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Polemic (disambiguation).

A polemic /pəˈlɛmɪk/ is a contentious argument that is intended to establish the truth of a specific understanding and the falsity of the contrary position. Polemics are mostly seen in arguments about very controversial topics. The art or practice of such argumentation is called polemics. A person who often writes polemics, or who speaks polemically, is a polemicist or a polemic.[1] The word is derived from the Greek πολεμικός (polemikos), meaning "warlike, hostile",[2][3] which comes from πόλεμος (polemos), "war".[4]


Along with debate, polemics are one of the most common forms of arguing. Similar to debate, a polemic is confined to a definite controversial thesis. But unlike debate, which may allow for common ground between the two disputants, a polemic is intended only to establish the truth of a point of view while refuting the opposing point of view.[examples needed]

Polemics are usually addressed to important issues in religion, philosophy, politics, or science. Polemic journalism was common in continental Europe at a time when libel laws were not as stringent as they are now.[5]

To support the study of the controversies of the 17th–19th centuries, a British research project has placed online thousands of polemical pamphlets from that era.[6]

Polemic theology[edit]

Polemic theology is the branch of theological argumentation devoted to the history or conduct of controversy over religious matters.[7] It is distinguished from apologetics, the intellectual defense of faith.

Martin Luther's On the Bondage of the Will is an example of polemic theology. It was written in answer to a polemic titled The Freedom of the Will by Desiderius Erasmus.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (Merriam-Webster, Springfield, MA, 2005), s.v. "polemic"
  2. ^ Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (Merriam-Webster, Springfield, MA, 2005), s.v. "polemic"
  3. ^ American College Dictionary (Random House, New York)
  4. ^ πόλεμος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  5. ^ polemic, or polemical literature, or polemics (rhetoric). britannica.com. Retrieved 2008-02-21. 
  6. ^ "Pamphlet and polemic: Pamphlets as a guide to the controversies of the 17th-19th centuries". St Andrews University Library. Retrieved 2012-09-11. 
  7. ^ Nicole, Roger R. (Summer 1998). "Polemic Theology: How to Deal with Those Who Differ from Us". The Founders Journal (33). Retrieved 2008-02-21. 


External links[edit]