Apodioxis

An Introduction to Apodioxis

Apodioxis (derives from Greek combination, ‘apo,’ “away” and ‘diokein,’ “to pursue”, literally means “a chasing away”), is the indignant rejection of an argument as impertinent or absurdly false.

Apodioxis simply involves the rejection of an argument without addressing it, the assumption being that to attempt a rebuttal of such a childish point of view would be a waste of time. On this note, an ingenious author gives his view on apodioxis as: “when we reject the objections of adversaries as trifles, or scorn them as absurdities, to which it is hard to answer, either saying they pertain not to the purpose, or feigning them to be foolish with laughing at them, or else promise to answer them at some more fit time, and shake them off, with bringing in other matters”

Notable Examples of Apodioxis
  • “This mighty and invincible reason of yours hath never an eye to see with all, and although it seems to have good legs, yet it is but an old Criple: be not led by it, for ye shall both fall into the ditch.”
  • — (Gifford, Countrie Divininitie.)

  • “That we know no more today of the nature of Deity, of its purposes – and thus of man himself – than we did even a dozen years ago, is a proposition disgracefully absurd; and of this any astronomer could assure Mr. Macaulay.
  • —(Review of Critical and Miscellaneous Essays, 10: 159)

  • “No, Mister President, you are not protecting women, you are authorizing the destruction of 500,000 thousand little women every year. No, Mr. President, you are not protecting reproductive freedom, you are authorizing destruction of freedom for 1,000,000 little human beings every year. No, Mr. President, killing our children is killing our children no matter how many times you say it is a private family matter. You may say it is a private family matter over and over and over and still they are dead … and we killed them …”
  • — (John Piper, Portion of the Response to President Obama)
Important Hint! 

The strength of Apodioxis is quite clear, but it must be incorporated correctly. The user will find a more complete effect if they place this device in close proximity to figures of praise. If one attribute of the idea or person presented is praised and then another rejected by Apodioxis the argument becomes more appealing. For example: when John Piper rejects the President’s decision concerning abortion he begins by telling how he wept for joy at his election. This place him as a caring individual who others can easily relate to.
— (Gregory T. Howard, Dictionary of Literary Terms)

Further Readings:
Brett Zimmerman | Edgar Allan Poe: Rhetoric and Style: ApodioxisOpens in new window
Gregory T. Howard | Dictionary Of Rhetorical Terms: ApodioxisOpens in new window