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The Art of Being Right

 

Techniques General persuasion > The Art of Being Right

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote an essay called 'The Art of Controversy' that was published (in English, in 1896) after his death. It was later re-published with the more catchy title of 'The Art of Being Right'. Schopenhauer's stratagems are repeated and discussed here.

In each of the pages below, the 'Description' and 'Example' sections are Schopenhauer's. The 'Discussion' is mine.

  1. The Extension
  2. The Homonymy
  3. Generalize Specific Statements
  4. Conceal Your Game
  5. False Proposition
  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 That Support 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

It is notable that many of Schopenhauer's methods are deceptive and the goal is to gain agreement and acceptance, rather than to really convince. Such methods may win an argument but they may also lose you friends and create the effects of betrayal, so they should be treated with care.

If other people use these methods with you, the simplest approach is to sidestep -- just refuse to react, ignoring their devices. It can be a powerful method to 'name the game', describing what they are doing and saying you are not going to be taken in by this.

See also

Argument, Being Right, The Need to Be Right

 

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