The Wisdom books present some surprises – among them, a fair sampling of paradox. Take for example the book of Proverbs, which includes a number of apparently inconsistent sayings colliding head to head. This pair is from Chapter 26:
Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.
“See? The holy literature of the Christians contradicts itself!” But no. Such juxtapositions are deliberate.
There really are reasons to confront fools on their own terms, and there really are reasons not to. To know when to speak and be silent, one must weigh the reasons case by case.
One who has not meditated on this vexing fact will hardly have grasped what the craft of rhetoric is for.