: views from the Hill

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Schopenhaeur -- The Art of Always Being Right: Thirty Eight Ways to Win When You Are Defeated

Arthur Schopenhauer -
Die Kunst, Recht zu behalten - The Art Of Controversy

Came across a review by George Walden of The Art of Always Being Right: Thirty Eight Ways to Win When You Are Defeated
by Arthur Schopenhauer (with an introduction by A C Grayling. Gibson Square Books, 190pp, £9.99. ISBN 1903933617)


Schopenhauer's sardonic little book, laying out 38 rhetorical tricks guaranteed to win you the argument even when you are defeated in logical discussion, is a true text for the times. An exercise in irony and realism, humour and melancholy, this is no antiquarian oddity, but an instruction manual in intellectual duplicity that no aspiring parliamentarian, trainee lawyer, wannabe TV interviewer or newspaper columnist can afford to be without.

The interest of his squib goes beyond his tricks of rhetoric: "persuade the audience, not the opponent", "put his theory into some odious category", "become personal, insulting, rude".

Don't want to fork over the £9.99? The book is based on Schopenhauer's THE ART OF CONTROVERSY, which is available online


Strategem VII

This trick consists in making your opponent angry; for when he is angry he is incapable of judging aright, and perceiving where his advantage lies. You can make him angry by doing him repeated injustice, or practising some kind of chicanery, and being generally insolent.

Stratagem XIX

Should your opponent expressly challenge you to produce any objection to some definite point in his argument, and you have nothing much to say, you must try to give the matter a general turn, and then talk against that. If you are called upon to say why a particular physical hypothesis cannot be accepted, you may speak of the fallibility of human knowledge, and give various illustrations of it.

Many employ these techniques. Those who are good at it and clever and crafty can do so without you even noticing, unless you already know the tricks and are watching closely.

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