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The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer - The Art of Controversy (illustrated) Kindle Edition
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Schopenhauer finished his major work, The World as Will and Idea, as a young man and then spent the majority of his adult philosophic life writing a second volume supplementing this work as well as writing many essays and aphorisms. Although I read his major 2 volume work and many essays back in college, I recently became aware of Schopenhauer's essay on how to engage in what Schopenhauer called dialectics or what we today would call debate or argument when watching a video course entitled `The Philosopher's Toolkit' on how to use philosophy to reason and live in the 21st century. The lecturer, Patrick Grim, noted how we could take Schopenhauer as being ironic in his presentation on this subject since the points he makes amount to what could be considered cheap shots or dirty tricks.
Perhaps Schopenhauer is being ironic. However, he does say that dialectic is separate from logic and we must recognize how people are too vain to admit they are wrong and are too intellectually weak and too perverse of will to be concerned with seeking the truth. Rather, people simply want to stand behind their words and opinions, no matter how wrongheaded or ridiculous, as if they are the facts of life and nothing but the truth. With this in mind, Schopenhauer states we are wise to debate with people as if engaged in the art of intellectual fencing, doing anything we can to score a victory.
Schopenhauer gives us 38 dialectic strategies. To better aid my memory, I compressed each strategy into a quick one-liner. Here are 21 of my one-liners:
Exaggerate the strength of your position and the weakness of your opponent's position - play word games -- apply one level of meaning to another level of meaning - get your opponent shaking their head `yes' to what you say - attack your opponent's associations - attack your opponent's general point rather than his specific point - ask lots of questions to confuse the issue - twist your opponent's answers so as to arrive at different or even opposite conclusions - get your opponent to admit a specific weakness in their view - use colorful language to discount or belittle your opponent - present two false alternatives (for example: `you are either with me or against me') - ignore any objections; rather simply state your conclusions as true - if you are having trouble with your position, simply put forth a smaller case - insist your opponent immediately act upon his words - fall back on subtle distinctions - interrupt and change the subject - if you can't make a good objection, then simply make a general statement - state your conclusions even without evidence - when all else fails, be rude and insult your opponent.
Schopenhauer is one of the world's greatest philosophers and his essays are true gems. Do yourself a favor a pick up a copy of this wonderful little book. And please don't try to argue against me on this point. I wouldn't want to resort to being insulting or rude.
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher who lived from 1788-1860; he was influenced among others by Plato and Immanuel Kant, and in his turn influenced Friedrich Nietzsche, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Thomas Mann and others. Schopenhauers work is known for its pessimistic views and beautifully written essays. If you like reading philosophy -or would like to try it- then I can recommend reading some of Schopenhauers essays.
This volume contains 4 essays plus the work of Schopenhauer on how to win an argument ( original title: 'Die Kunst, Recht zu behalten'); this long essay of app. 90 pages in print has a difficult introduction, which can be skipped, and 38 tricks which are very handy to know! You wont have to wait long before you will recognise people and politicians using these tricks, so very handy to understand.
The contents of this book is:
THE ART OF CONTROVERSY--
1. PRELIMINARY: LOGIC AND DIALECTIC
2. THE BASIS OF ALL DIALECTIC
ON THE COMPARATIVE PLACE OF INTEREST AND BEAUTY IN WORKS OF ART
ON THE WISDOM OF LIFE: APHORISMS
GENIUS AND VIRTUE
As a sample of this 'The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer; the Art of Controversy' I copy two bits from this book:
1) The 38th 'trick' of how to win an argument (page 50 of 88, location 486 on Kindle):
A last trick is to become personal, insulting, rude, as soon as you
perceive that your opponent has the upper hand, and that you are going
to come off worst. It consists in passing from the subject of dispute,
as from a lost game, to the disputant himself, and in some way
attacking his person. It may be called the _argumentum ad personam_,
to distinguish it from the _argumentum ad hominem_, which passes
from the objective discussion of the subject pure and simple to the
statements or admissions which your opponent has made in regard to it.
But in becoming personal you leave the subject altogether, and turn
your attack to his person, by remarks of an offensive and spiteful
character. It is an appeal from the virtues of the intellect to the
virtues of the body, or to mere animalism. This is a very popular
trick, because every one is able to carry it into effect; and so it
is of frequent application. Now the question is, What counter-trick
avails for the other party? for if he has recourse to the same rule,
there will be blows, or a duel, or an action for slander.
2) Part of the last chapter (Genius and Virtue), from page 87 of 88 (Kindle: location 1126 of 1136):
It is the curse of the genius that in the same measure in which others
think him great and worthy of admiration, he thinks them small and
miserable creatures. His whole life long he has to suppress this
opinion; and, as a rule, they suppress theirs as well. Meanwhile, he
is condemned to live in a bleak world, where he meets no equal, as it
were an island where there are no inhabitants but monkeys and parrots.
Moreover, he is always troubled by the illusion that from a distance a
monkey looks like a man.