ISON, the Icy Wanderer

and Other Mystical Tales

by Arthur Telling

Will Is More Effective Than Insight (with commentary)

by Chirag Patel | The Art of Being Right by Arthur Schopenhauer

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A classic guide to tricks and tactics for winning arguments, with commentary on the use of and defence against each tactic.

The best summary of this book is ‘being right doesn’t mean you’re gonna win, and this is why’. It’s the ultimate guide to spotting the many different kinds of bullshit people pull in order to win over the crowd, rather than argue the point at hand. There’s very few of them that don’t immediately bring examples to mind, and having it laid out clearly like this is the perfect armour to stop people derailing you.

In the real world, people don’t win arguments based on what’s correct. They win because they win over the crowd, or change the subject, or bully their rival, or 35 other causes. This guide will walk you through the various strategies that people use, with notes on usage and defence for each point.

Arthur didn’t intend this work as a guide for winning fights. Much like Machiavelli’s The Prince, this is a satire – a guide on what to watch out for in others and yourself, not a toolkit. If you can’t win your argument on fair grounds, you need to reconsider your position; but that doesn’t mean you should let people steal the day by underhand means. This book will teach you how to spot and spike them before they get a head of steam.

Topics: 

  • The Extension (Dana’s Law)
  • The Homonymy
  • Generalize Your Opponent’s Specific Statements
  • Conceal Your Game
  • False Propositions
  • Postulate What Has to Be Proved
  • Yield Admissions Through Questions
  • Make Your Opponent Angry
  • Questions in Detouring Order
  • Take Advantage of the Nay-Sayer
  • Generalize Admissions of Specific Cases
  • Choose Metaphors Favourable to Your Proposition
  • Agree to Reject the Counter-Proposition
  • Claim Victory Despite Defeat
  • Use Seemingly Absurd Propositions
  • Arguments Ad Hominem
  • Defense Through Subtle Distinction
  • Interrupt, Break, Divert the Dispute
  • Generalize the Matter, Then Argue Against it
  • Draw Conclusions Yourself
  • Meet Him With a Counter-Argument as Bad as His
  • Petitio principii
  • Make Him Exaggerate His Statement
  • State a False Syllogism
  • Find One Instance to the Contrary
  • Turn the Tables
  • Anger Indicates a Weak Point
  • Persuade the Audience, Not the Opponent
  • Diversion
  • Appeal to Authority Rather Than Reason
  • This Is Beyond Me
  • Put His Thesis into Some Odious Category
  • It Applies in Theory, but Not in Practice
  • Don’t Let Him Off the Hook
  • Will Is More Effective Than Insight
  • Bewilder Your opponent by Mere Bombast
  • A Faulty Proof Refutes His Whole Position
  • Become Personal, Insulting, Rude (argumentum ad personam)