Fight Fire With Fire?

It’s an age old axiom, “fight fire with fire”, but does it hold any truth or at minimum a bit of good advice? I’d like to know what everyone thinks about this, and I know I’m being vague but that’s because I want to approach it from a more metaphysical angle.

Feel free to take the question as litterally or metaphysically as you want and apply it to any sort of situations in your reasoning.

So, should we fight fire with fire, in any situations from interpersonal relationships to all out World War?

Water will extinguish a fire much faster.

Example 1. Two armies of equal size and strength clash, meeting force with force. (Fire vs Fire)

Which one wins is left up to chance.

However, if the leader of army A takes inovative action, such as assassinating the general of army B (Thus dousing the fire with water), Army A has a decided advantage.

Example 2. Someone punches you in the face. You could hit them back.
(Fire vs Fire)
Or you could invoke the legal system, and recieve actual compensation and hurt your adversary far worse than a beating could.(again with the water)

Example 3. Someone launches an ad hominem attack on ILP forums.
You could insult them back (F vs F)
Or
You could stick to the issue, thus rendering their ad hominem useless and showing them to be a lesser intelligence. (Water)

Of course, there are times where meeting like with like is the only option, but I find it is always more effective to go one better :slight_smile:

I honestly have never understood what kind of logic was used when the phrase “fight fire with fire” was coined, unless they were talking about huge forest fires.

Marvin Gaye tells us that “only love can conquer hate”, so why do we often stick to the old FFWF and meet hatred and violence with hatred and violence?

Since most people are probably going to agree with the good Dr. that water beats fire… Are there any situations where fire should be used to fight fire?

And if anyone has some more water fights fire situations they are still welcome.

certainly, in trivial matters as have been pointed out, water is a better means of fighting fire. however, in the most difficult situation, I do think that fighting fire with fire is a better solution. take the cold war as an example. America was the first to create the imbalance of power by developing the nuclear weapons. the German physist Zipper (don’t know how to spell it exactly ) then developed a way to separate isotopes of uranium-238 from U-235 cheaply and eficiently. he spread the technology around the world (or contributed a great deal in spreading the technology around the world) after he was released by the russians (he was “asked” to help the russians to develope the atomic bombs right after the second world war). now the world was fearing the mutual destruction by nuclear weapons, yet the superpowers, ironically, were checked by these nuclear weapons so that they did not dare to use the weapons.

Ever try and put out a chemical fire with water?

Water doesn’t put out fire. The NATURE of fire puts out fire.

What is the nature of fire?

It requires three elements to function: fuel, oxygen, and a spark (ignition).

Why does water put out fire? It smothers it. It absorbs the heat and steam and fluid replace oxygen.

What is another way to end a fire? Get rid of its fuel. This is where the term “fight fire with fire” comes from. Let’s say you have a fire in your field and you want to prevent it from burning your house. Water, if left to the devices of the slow-burning flame, will eventually evaporate… so JUST encircling your house with water will not save it. Instead, make a circle of water around your house as said above, but also, on the outer perimeter around the water, place fuel around the water. Light a match, and let the grass around the wet soil burn off. When the extremely hot fire from the field starts to move toward your house, it will find that it no longer has any fuel (grass) to burn, and will miss your house entirely. Sure, you could plane in tons of water, but I don’t have a plane handy… do you?

Fighting fire with fire means to use the nature of fire against itself. Pouring water on a wood fire or covering a grease fire or using an extinguisher… they’re all using fire to fight fire. Why? The fire burns itself out. I think most people seem to miss the point of this saying.

No, you’re wrong! In the case of huge forest fires, we fight fire with fire because there is no other choice left. We cannot REASON with fire and using water or steam etc., does not work, only burning a thick line of grass, so the fire won’t spread to the other side will work. But in the case of cold war, we can REASON with the opposition, so we should not fight fire with fire. Even when this choice is available, the only reason someone will go for fighting fire with fire is either because they themselves are very arrogant or the opposition is beyond listening and so the same arrogant. But where negotiation is possible, using fire against fire must not be used. Remember, when we use fire with fire strategy, we already lose something in the form of burning a thick line of grass off the ground? If this comes in the context of people, would you like to lose some precious lives my dear for no reason at all, when negotiation is possible?

I see what you’re saying. but I wasn’t taking fight fire with fire as literally meaning fighting physical fire by burning grass as you seem to have interpreted from my post. I was simply saying that, in one sentence, the most destructive weapons also serve to supress the outbreak of war. if weapons are analogous to fire for their destructive power are both phenomonal, the superpowers in the cold war succeeded in refraining from unleashing the power of “fire” by possessing “fire” on both sides.
Yan

I think the name the phrase itself gives you an answer. How can fire put out fire? Maybe we should use another phrase which essentially means the same thing, “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. With this we can maybe dispel all the nonsense of water, oxygen, fuel, and all the other properties of fire.

Anyone with some insight would agree this reasoning is circular. Take gang violence for example. But all of this is going back towards some form of revenge. I hate to use this but it is true. If we take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth most of us would have a at least one eye or tooth missing.

I think a good question is why we feel there has to be revenge?

Read my post again, you’re the one who misunderstood because you only read the top line in my post.

So, by possessing “fire” on both sides of the cold war, that stopped the animosity and hatred? What did possessing the “fire” do? Prevent a nuclear 3rd world war? Were we considering prevention here or putting out a fire? You changed the topic. And for your so kind information, possessing fire on the other side doesn’t happen just like that, it needs labour, taxpayer’s energy and money GOING TO WASTE, and that’s NOTHING? What nonsense!!!

As for you Ehren,
There was no issue of revenge here, we were just talking about settling issues and not by using the strategy of putting out fire with fire.

Fighting fire with fire is not about revenge…

Fighting fire with fire is a method of self defense. If someone tries to attack you with their fist, instead of doing something foolish like pushing into their attack, you lean into it. You accept the nature of being attacked and go with it. The result? Their blow is lessened and you now have the advantage of balance on your side (figuratively and literally).

Sooo, think of it like this, if your friend begins to call you names, and “fires” insult after insult at you, keep the high ground and laugh at him. The nature of an insult is to transfer negative energy from the attacker to the victim and to transfer positive energy from the victim to the attacker. However, if there is no victim, then there is no transfer of energy. If you attack back, then you feed the fire, you do not help extinguish it.

When you pour water on a chemical fire it makes it spread. Why? Because you’re not using the nature of fire to your own advantage. If you smother the chemical fire, though, it burns out. Why? Becaused you used the fire to extinguish the fire.

My point is that you miss the point if you say, “fight fire with water.” That’s what fools do. That’s what Russia did during the Cold War. We had nukes, they felt threatened, they started their own arms program to counter ours. We saw their armament program, and being more advanced, decided to try and keep ahead of them. Thus the arms race. Russia was the underdog from day one, but they kept fueling our fire. The result? Bankrupt Russia, winner, U.S.A.

If they had just played it cool. If they had just kept their nukes hidden. If they had acted as our allies and shared information with us, we may still have a Soviet Russia. That would be fighting fire with fire.

Rafajafar,
Putting out “fire with fire” means that we are using fire to it’s own disadvantage and DEMISE but to our advantage. So, yes it’s not about revenge, it’s about way more. It’s actually about putting an end to the fire. Fighting, “fire with fire” is NOT a method of “self defense.” Where did you get that? It’s about getting RID of the fire by using that very property of fire.

That is why in the case of people it is not a good strategy to employ the strategy of using, “fire with fire” to settle anything. I don’t want to say anymore, please!

laughs at you

Then don’t.

Your argument is not only flawed, hon, but it’s completely non-existant.

I’ve answered your questions. I get my answers from reality. Where do you get yours?

My point is that you miss the point if you say, “fight fire with water.” That’s what fools do. That’s what Russia did during the Cold War. We had nukes,
they felt threatened, they started their own arms program to counter ours. We saw their armament program, and being more advanced, decided to try and keep
ahead of them. Thus the arms race. Russia was the underdog from day one, but they kept fueling our fire. The result? Bankrupt Russia, winner, U.S.A.

sorry I don’t have too much time at the moment but this is so important that I feel I have to write it down before I leave. if indeed Russia or ussr at that time did not build up their arsenal of weapons to oppose the usa, the world would have be much more dangerous. look at the world nowadays, we have usa demonating, it is ignoring what the international comunity says, that’s very unhealthy and dangerous. I think that a balance of power on two sides are necessary for peace. that is exactly why I say the destructive power of weapons serve to suppress outbreak of war hence peace.
Yan
I’ll be back soon
sorry

Dr. Stanical wrote:

If thats what army A does then for Army B to “fight fire with fire” would mean to go assassinate army A’s general, ect.

That is how I believe the phrase should be interpeted. If thats the tactics your oponent uses against you and they work then use his tactics agaisnt him.

I consider fire to be a metaphor for superior, many times vile and harsher tactics. In my opinion there are times one should follow the axiom and times where moral choice may lead one to discard such advice.

From fire (or eyes or teeth), I take the metaphor hostility/aggression or destruction. You also get the saying in basketball or something, ‘the best defence is a good offence’.

Basically it implies if you take out their ability to destroy with destruction, they cannot destroy back.

But this is like repelling an positively charged magnet with a positively magnet, as opposed to attracting it (which is not what you want to do with nukes) with a negatively charged magnet.

The water to put out an angry firey nation is negotiation. But this doesn’t always work. Water can be damaging to fire, just as enough water can be damaging to fire (try throwing the pacific ocean at the sun). Just like some negotiation can be worse than retaliating with nukes (theoretically).

But the real problem is belief. How can you extinguish a devout believer? To them, what they believe might as well be fact. Like trying to convince a devout christian that there is no God. Just like trying to negotiate with a firey nation with water. You have to nuke 'em.

You have to take away their ability to believe.

Belief is drawn from misunderstandings and attempting to make up your own explanation for it. If you believe it enough, no-one can disuade you.

And misunderstanding is inevitable with limited human abilities. We can only perceive from our particular perception with our particular perceptions with the only way we can understand things - with logic. No wonder we don’t know whats going on, no matter how much we try and make things fit. They just don’t. But we can’t help it - its how we survive. And thats what we do. If we’re made to not survive, we die.

And thats the only real solution to this problem in my opinion, but I don’t see any real difference between living and dying - it just depends what goals you have, and I have none. Other than my body tells me to live, but I will die some day anyway. So I just go along with it.

fighting fire with fire is a principal that works with fire-fighting
looking at the effect behind this tactic, i think the war-tactical equivalent is ‘scorched earth’-tactic…

But the real problem is belief. How can you extinguish a devout believer? To them, what they believe might as well be fact. Like trying to convince a devout
christian that there is no God. Just like trying to negotiate with a firey nation with water. You have to nuke 'em.

You have to take away their ability to believe.

Belief is drawn from misunderstandings and attempting to make up your own explanation for it. If you believe it enough, no-one can disuade you.

I strongly disagree with you on a few points here. you have too strong a militant kind of methodology on how to convince someone that he/she is believing something wrongly. do you not think that what the extreme islamic fundamentalists are doing is wrong? they believe that people who have different believes to what they believe in should be killed. I can never agree with that! I think that the best way to convince someone must be through reasoning. simply “take away their ability to believe” is barbaric.
if someone happened to believe that killing me is right, and I have the correct logical argument to show him that he is wrong but he simply rejects the argument for no particular reason, I still think that best I can do is to self-defend but not actively taking away his ability to believe.
Yan

I was simply attempting to show my interpretation of the logic behind such a seemingly unreasonable response taken by so many leaders with the power to destroy.

Taking away their power by destroying it with your power.

My point was trying to be that this can be more understandable than you might prefer to think.

You just can’t reason with some people, no matter how flawless your logic is. True believers cannot be disuaded. They believe they are right whatever you say.

And so, no matter how much I dislike it, you have to do something about it to prevent them from doing something about their unreasonable beliefs. And that can only be to take their power away by force.

But then you have the problem of: Is your way going to be better. Its like my opinion of america in iraq (although I can’t say I know much about it). They are fighting each other’s fire with fire, because they couldn’t negotiate. But is america’s take on how to run things actually better than iraq’s? There may have been a lot wrong with iraq before, but I’m sure as hell that there’s just as much wrong with america - just in a different way.

But thats just my opinion. But then also in my opinion, I think opinion’s are just ignorance. And no-one can help being ignorant because we are only human. Its when you do something about your beliefs thats the problem. And that is why I implied that the best solution was to not have people. There’s not that much difference between being dead and alive, except my body tells me it wants to be alive and doesn’t want the pain of dying, although I know it will happen one day. And that will be a good thing although my body doesn’t want it, because the world will have one less person with beliefs and ignorance - the sources of all conflicts.

But since I’m here and my body wants me to be here until it can’t be here, then my only solution is to just stick it out but go with the flow, try and amend my ignorance as best I can, and not try and impose my beliefs and ignorance on other people, because it only causes conflict. That seems to be the wisest thing to do. Which fits, because the wisest people have the least beliefs and go with the flow.

You can take away someone’s power to destroy without using destruction yourself though. Take Rafa’s example for example…

This definatly takes on different meaning when talking about firing nukes or kamakaziis rather than insults though, I’m just not absolutely sure what it is.

The best way is prevention. But sometimes fires get started. So now that we have people who hate each other one group can’t just start killing the other group. We’ll they can, but it won’t solve anything it will just stoke the fire of hatred.

I don’t agree, I think anyone can be reasoned with, you just have to approach them on the right level. You can’t reason with someone who you know nothing about, and knows nothing about you. But when you have people who understand each other, they are less likely to want to kill each other.

You still completely miss the point, Pope.

“Fight Fire With Fire” does not mean “use destruction to fight destruction”. That’s LUDICROUS! You still do not understand the point of the saying, which MOST PEOPLE DO NOT.

Fight Fire With Fire = Let Your Attacker Be His Own Worst Enemy

Any Fire will burn itself out so long as you do not feed it.

When you fight fire with fire, you’re removing the fire’s fuel.