Sunday, April 28, 2013

Arthur Schopenhauer - the art of being right

1. The Extension
2. The Homonymy
3. Generalize your Opponent's Specific Statements
4. Conceal Your Game
5. False Propositions
6. Postulate What Has To Be Proved
7. Yield Admissions Through Questions
8. Make Your Opponent Angry
9. Questions in Detouring Order
10. Take Advantage of The Nay-Sayer
11. Generalize Admissions of Specific Cases
12. Choose Metaphors Favourable to Your Proposition
13. Agree to Reject the Counter-Proposition
14. Claim Victory Despite Defeat
15. Use Seemingly Absurd Propositions
16. Arguments Ad Hominem
17. Defense Through Subtle Distinction
18. Interrupt, Break, Divert the Dispute
19. Generalize the Matter, Then Argue Against it
20. Draw Conclusions Yourself
21. Meet him With a Counter-Argument as Bad as His
22. petitio principii
23. Make Him Exaggerate his Statement
24. State a False Syllogism
25. Find One Instance to The Contrary
26. Turn The Tables
27. Anger Indicates a Weak Point
28. Persuade the Audience, Not The Opponent
29. Diversion
30. Appeal to Authority Rather Than Reason
31. This is Beyond Me
32. Put His Thesis Into Some Odious Category
33. It Applies in Theory, But Not in Practice
34. Don't Let Him Off The Hook
35. Will is More Effective Than Insight
36. Bewilder Your opponent by Mere Bombast
37. A Faulty Proof Refutes His Whole Position
38. Become Personal, Insulting, Rude

*The Extension

is to interprete the opponent's words as generally and wide as possible, while limiting the meaning of one's own words to as specific as possible. This works because it's easier to find arguments against general, loose and wide claims than to limited, narrow and specific claims.

How to respond to this:

Stay on topic. Restate the claim in the correct interpretation and remind people that even though there are several ways to interprete words, this is what you are talking about.

You will be met with: "If that's what you mean, why didn't you say so!"

That's just an effort to change the subject. Ignore it. Don't start discussing the possible interpretations, don't start explaining why you said it in the first place or didn't say, don't start discussing grammar or your persona or the errors of using the language. You can repeat your argument.

(Then you will be accused of boring people… :-D)

*The Homonymy

Some words have several meanings.

For example stalk - a part of a plant or to follow someone, bear - an animal or to carry and left (direction or past tense of leave).

Some words have different meanings in different contexts. Tautology is in logic the use of circle argument, but in rhetorics over-repetition. Semitic is in liguistic a language family and in ethnology the people speaking semitic languages, but antisemitic is a Jew-hater.

Homonymy is to deliberately misunderstand the use of the word and to argue against the interpretation that's easiest to refute.

This is met the same way the previous trick.

*Generalize your Opponent's Specific Statements

This is third form of the same technique.

Interprete the opponent's statement that is part of the discussion as if it wasn't. Treat it as if it was meant to be a general or absolute statement and refute the applications of the statement you can.
Comes to mind several discussions with Xian apologists… the existence of absolute truth (there is only one absolute truth and that is that absolute truth doesn't exist), the nature of tolerance (I tolerate everything but intolerance), etc.

To respond to this is to specify. "I was speaking of this and this, not of that."

These three tricks are part of the "ignoratio elenchi" group - irrelevant conclusion or thesis.

The opponent argues against something not said. Sure, the arguments are true, and therefore the attacker believes (or acts as if) to have refuted your argument, but the arguments are totally irrelevant to the discussion at hands.

All you need to refute the "ignoratio elenchi" fallacies is to point out that even though they might be correct, they are totally irrelevant to the issue. After that, ignore the efforts to make them relevant.
"Red herring" and "tu quoque" fallacies are examples of "Ignoratio elenchi".


Conceal your game

To avoid that your opponent finds out what you are after and manages to refute your statement, sprinkle the premisses of the conclusion in the discussion randomly and "hidden". Then when several of these are accepted as valid or not refuted in the discussion, combine them and present your conclusion.


False Propositions

Prove that your opponent's propositions are wrong, and you have proven your opponent's thinking is wrong.

This is related to the "Guilt by Association" argument.


Postulate What Has To Be Proved
(postulate: to assume without proof, or as self-evident)

Begging the question.

One can do this by
- using another name of what has to be proved
- making a general assumption covering the particular point in dispute
(all human knowledge is uncertain, therefore one cannot trust the modern medicine)
- using the proof of any premiss of the argument as proof of all the premisses of the argument
- using particulars to prove the general
(Jolly is a dog, Bebe is a dog, Lady is a dog, so all your pets are dogs.)


Yield Admissions Through Questions

Ask many questions that cannot be easily and shortly answered and pick from the responses the admissions you need for your argument.


Make your opponent angry

When one is angry, one isn't thinking straight, one makes hasty decisions, one misses advantages. If nothing else, one leaves the discussion as to not to make mistakes.
Be unfair. Make fun of your opponent. Lie. Slander things important to him/her. Be insolent.


Questions in Detouring Order

Trick the opponent by concealing the purpose of the questions by asking them in random order. (conceal your game)

Use the answers to benefit your purpose, by deliberately misinterpreting if necessary. (strategies 1, 2, 3)


Take Advantage of The Nay-Sayer

If your opponent usually answers negatively to questions you want him to answer positively, use the reverse psychology - form your questions in a way that it seems you are anxious to get a positive answer, when in fact the negative is what fits your purposes.

You can also disguise the question by asking a "real" question, or form the question so that you can use his answer to confirm what you want to be confirmed, what ever he answers. (Have you stopped beating your wife yet?)


Generalize Admissions of Specific Cases

If your opponent grants you parts of the premisses, don't ask him if he also admits the conclusion - act as if he had admitted it. No-one will notice the difference.


Choose Metaphors Favourable to Your Proposition

Use words, metaphores, formulations, analogues that creates the emotional response that benefits your purpose.

Are Palestinian suicide-bombers "freedom fighters" or "terrorists"? 
Female Genital Mutilation or Female Circumcision?
Abortion or Murder?
Patriotism or ultra-nationalism?
"the existing order" or "antiquated prejudice".


Agree to Reject the Counter-Proposition

Give your opponent two options that LOOK as if they were opposite options. Make the "unwanted" option look as bad as you can, and the "wanted" option as good as you can.


Claim Victory Despite Defeat

Just ignore what is happening and act as if you have won. If you are loud enough, it might work.


Use Seemingly Absurd Propositions

If you find it hard to prove your point, present a new proposition, which is true but the truth is hard to see. Looks absurd but in reality isn't.

If your opponent rejects it, show the truth in the proposition thus showing how stupid your opponent is, and use the momentum to push the first point through. If your opponent accepts it, you have been proven right, and you can use the momentum to push the first point through.


Arguments Ad Hominem

See if your opponent's argument is in ANY WAY inconsistent with another argument he has made or admitted - it's enough if one of his friends or anyone who has agreed with him at any time has made the argument, and it's enough if you can make the argument LOOK inconsistent.

"There's something wrong with USA"
"Then why don't you move somewhere else?"

"I am against death penalty"
"You support abortion, which is nothing but death penalty for innocent, defenseless children"


Defense Through Subtle Distinction

When your opponent presents a counter-proof, bring forth a subtle distinction of your argument, which makes the counter-proof irrelevant and thus invalid.


Interrupt, Break, Divert the Dispute

If you notice that your opponent is about to win the argument, do anything to stop the discussion from going to that direction. Take a break, leave the discussion all together, change the subject, lead the discussion into another area…


Generalize the Matter, Then Argue Against it

If you are challenged to produce the objection to a specific point in the argument, and you don't have any, talk against a general, in some way relevant point and bore the people with a lot of words - sound very credible.


Draw Conclusions Yourself

This is related to "Generalize Admissions of Specific Cases"
When you have presented your arguments, continue to conclusion, whether your opponent have admitted the arguments or not.


Meet him With a Counter-Argument as Bad as His

If your opponent uses "bad" arguments, logical fallacies, shallow arguments or arguments that SOUND wise (but aren't), you could counter them by showing the lack, but it's better to throw in a just as "bad" argument.


petitio principii

If your opponent requires you to admit something that will prove his point, claim it's "begging a question" - the argument in itself is "evidence" of that the argument is true.


Make Him Exaggerate his Statement

Contradicting and arguing the point will irritate your opponent and make him exaggerate his statement, extend the statement beyond its limits, and then you can refute the exaggerated form, thus making it look as if you have refuted the original form.

If someone tries to do this to you, stop him at once and say "That's what I said, and no more".


State a False Syllogism

Syllogism is a kind of logical argument in which one proposition is inferred from two others.
Twist and turn the opposition's argument and drive from it other arguments, which you then prove to be absurd, dangerous, false or wrong.


Find One Instance to The Contrary

Find one example to which the opponent's conditions don't match.
"I love green - all my clothes are green"
"no, they are not. You're wearing blue jeans."

If this technique is used against you, see if
1) the example is true
2) the example is an example of the group you are referring to
3) the example is consistent - it might only look consistent.


Turn The Tables

Use the opponent's arguments against him.
"It is because of ABC I think blah blah blah"
"but it is just because of ABC the opposite is true."


Anger Indicates a Weak Point

If your opponent shows any signs of anger, start pushing the point, because his anger can be abused, and because emotional response indicates a weak point in the argument.


Persuade the Audience, Not The Opponent

If you can't attack the opponent's arguments nor persona, use the "argumentum ad auditores" - if the public agrees with you, you must be right. If you don't have audience, get one.

(J.W. used this very much - he had always his "leash of bitches", rather stupid women who thought he was all that and more, and who would blissfully agree with anything he said. So if he had nowhere to go, he stated something irrelevant but true, or something that just sounded good, and asked his court if they saw the sense in it - which they always did, of course - and then they started ridiculing me…)



If you find yourself in a tough spot, change the subject. It's good if the new subject is seemingly relevant to the previous subject, but it doesn't matter. Present the issue as if it was very relevant and important and as if it proved your opponent wrong.

"The Jews control the media"
"No, they don't"
"Just look at how the AIPAC work in USA for Israel's cause!"


Appeal to Authority Rather Than Reason

Argumentum ad verecundiam.
Appeal to authority.
"If so-and-so says it is so, it must be so."


"This is Beyond Me"

If you have no reply to your opponent's arguments, say that you don't understand the arguments. This strategy demands your audience, because it is based on the your reputation as intelligent man. You're so smart, so if you "don't understand" something, it is because it's senseless, idiotic, irrational, unreasonable and absurd.

It is a form of appealing to an authority - and the authority in question is yourself.

To counter this trick is to say "I beg your pardon; but, with your penetrating intellect, it must be very easy for you to understand anything; and it can only be my poor statement of the matter that is at fault". Keep rubbing it in.


Put His Thesis Into Some Odious Category

Invalidate the assertion by putting it into some category. What ever he states, confront it by saying "that's —ism". It has no significance whether it is or not, but you are making an impression of that
1) people have tried this with you earlier too and didn't succeed that time either
2) it's utter stupidity to try to push anything —ist, because everyone knows —ism is utter stupidity.

(A response to this is "—ists always call anything they disagree with to —ism and everyone criticising them to —ists".
I don't think it was in common use when Schopenhauer wrote his list. ;))


It Applies in Theory, But Not in Practice

"That's all very well in theory, but it won't do in practice." This is based on the idea that if a theory is correct, it must work in practice - if it doesn't, the theory is false.


Don't Let Him Off The Hook

If your opponent tries to use any of these techniques on you, you know you have found a weak point in his argument. Don't let him change the subject.


Will is More Effective Than Insight

"argumentum ab utili"
Make your opponent believe that if he wins the argument, he will loose the cause, that the conclusion of the arguments he's presenting will lead to harming the things he appreciates. If that doesn't work, make your audience believe that if your opponent wins the argument, THEY will see their cause lost, that the conclusion of your opponent's arguments will harm the things they appreciate. They'll give you their support immediately. If this doesn't work, widen the "target" group - you're fighting for the best of the society, the mankind, the world.


Bewilder Your opponent by Mere Bombast

Use a lot of words.
If that doesn't fool your opponent, use "fine words" and "learneth expressions"… Faculty language, technical terms, anything that sounds good but expresses nothing. If you don't fool your opponent, you'll fool your audience.


A Faulty Proof Refutes His Whole Position

Should your opponent choose a faulty proof to support his correct argument, refute it and claim the victory, as if that faulty proof was used to hold the whole argument together.


Become Personal, Insulting, Rude

If nothing else work, use ad hominem attacks. Get personal, insulting, rude, spiteful, offensive. This should be used as last resort, because you should be able to win the argument without looking bad, or at least looking better man than your opponent.
"Nothing is of greater moment to a man than the gratification of his vanity, and no wound is more painful than that which is inflicted on it."
If your opponent attacks your persona, calmly state that such argument is irrelevant to the question at hands, and continue proving him wrong in the issue.


Schopenhauer's "The Art of Being Right" is a satirical list of techniques one can use to win an argument. The idea of these techniques is to win an argument - "to be right" - and not to share information or find the "golden middle road".

"For it is with victory that you are concerned, and not with truth"

Schopenhauer ends his list with this:

The only safe rule, therefore, is that which Aristotle mentions in the last chapter of his Topica: not to dispute with the first person you meet, but only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to cherish truth, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong, should truth lie with him.From this it follows that scarcely one man in a hundred is worth your disputing with him.

You may let the remainder say what they please, for every one is at liberty to be a fool - desipere est jus gentium.

Remember what Voltaire says: La paix vaut encore mieux que la verite (peace is better than truth).

Remember also an Arabian proverb which tells us that on the tree of silence there hangs its fruit, which is peace.


These techniques SHOULD NOT BE USED.
These are unfair techniques, using logical fallacies, lying, cheating and bullying just to "win" the debate, just "to be right". They don't create understanding between people, don't lead to solutions, create only hurt feelings, disappointment, frustration, anger, and as you use these techniques, people will start avoiding you and stop listening to you. So, even if they do work, in that you will "win" every debate, DON'T USE THEM!

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