OWL Magazine Korea

“Schopenhauer’s ‘The Art of Winning Arguments 38′”

Schopenhauer was a German philosopher who flourished in the 19th century. Born in 1788, he passed away in 1860. He critically embraced Kant’s ideas and believed he correctly continued Kant’s philosophy. Moreover, he strongly criticized contemporary popular scholars such as Hegel, Fichte, and Schelling for distorting Kant’s ideas and spreading pseudo-theories.

Schopenhauer’s doctoral dissertation, “On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason,” became a classic in philosophy. He began writing “The World as Will and Representation” in his twenties and published it in 1818. After clashing with Hegel in university lectures and disdainfully regarding the factions of university professors, he continued independent research activities outside academia. He later argued in his book “On the Will in Nature” that his philosophy was related to the proofs of natural science. He then published two essays on ethics and released a revised edition of “The World as Will and Representation” in 1844, twenty-six years after its initial publication. He subsequently published a book containing essays on life in general, which made him famous.

Schopenhauer’s writings are known for their clear arguments. Compared to contemporary popular philosophers like Hegel, whose obscure sentences can confuse readers, Schopenhauer’s sentences are clear and directive, reflecting his position on linguistic philosophy.

“Schopenhauer’s The Art of Winning Arguments”

This book, “The Art of Winning Arguments,” was published in South Korea. It compiles 38 debate rules from Schopenhauer’s 1864 book “Eristische Dialektik” (“The Art of Being Right”).

Ultimately, it is a book centered on principles applicable in debates or arguments.

“A Book Detailing Techniques for Winning Debates”

“Eristic Dialectic” was compiled posthumously from Schopenhauer’s manuscripts. Although it’s presented as a guide to argumentation, its content is filled with logical fallacies, even introducing personal attacks as a method of debate. Schopenhauer did not view these tactics negatively.

In the book, Schopenhauer suggests that people are inherently inclined to assert their correctness. Thus, he believes that these tactics, even if considered unfair, are not unusual in debates. He emphasizes the need to understand and learn from such tactics to counter them, even when presenting logical arguments. Schopenhauer asserts that in debates, where the truth is often uncertain, there’s no need to consider objective truth. He argues that dialectics should be treated separately from logic and states, “I will regard not universal truth itself, but simply the art of maintaining one’s assertion in a discussion, as the ultimate goal.” He openly expresses his positive view of these tactics and encourages their study and use in debates, even when opponents employ them.

“Schopenhauer’s 38 Tactics for Winning Arguments”

  1. Use the Argument of Extension.
  2. Use Homonymy.
  3. Absoluteize and Generalize the Opponent’s Specific Proposition.
  4. Prevent the Opponent from Predicting Your Conclusion.
  5. Use False Premises.
  6. Employ the Hidden Circular Argument.
  7. Obtain Surrender through Question Barrage.
  8. Make the Opponent Angry.
  9. Randomize Questions to the Opponent.
  10. Provoke the Opponent through Counterintuitive Remarks.
  11. Treat the Opponent’s Confession of Facts as Confession to Universal Truth.
  12. Rapidly Choose Apt Metaphors to Support Your Argument.
  13. Present Contradictory Propositions Simultaneously to Corner the Opponent.
  14. Display Audacity.
  15. Use the Fogging Technique.
  16. Utilize the Opponent’s Arguments against Them.
  17. Defend Using Subtle Differences.
  18. Disrupt the Progress of the Debate and Redirect the Discussion.
  19. Attack Specifics in the Debate by Generalizing.
  20. Hasten to Conclude.
  21. Meet an Objection with an Objection.
  22. Loudly Denounce the Opponent’s Forced Statements.
  23. Challenge the Opponent to a Word Battle.
  24. Employ False Inferences and Distortions to Draw a Forced Conclusion.
  25. End the Debate with a Rebuttal Example.
  26. Reverse the Opponent’s Argument.
  27. If the Opponent Shows Anger, It Indicates a Weakness.
  28. Persuade the Audience, Not the Opponent.
  29. If It Seems the Opponent Will Ask Questions, Shift the Topic.
  30. Appeal to Authority Rather than Reason.
  31. Convey That Your Arguments Surpass My Understanding.
  32. Place the Opponent’s Arguments in the Category of Hatred.
  33. Although Theoretically Correct, It Is False in Reality.
  34. Trap the Opponent So They Cannot Escape.
  35. Appeal to the Opponent’s Will through Motives.
  36. Spew Meaningless Words like a Waterfall.
  37. When the Opponent Gives Self-Incriminating Evidence, Attack That Aspect.
  38. If the Opponent Is Too Superior, Resort to Personal Attacks.

When looking at the actual strategies introduced above, such as resorting to personal attacks or spewing meaningless words like a waterfall, it may seem strange. Ultimately, the book presents methods for “winning” in debate or verbal conflict rather than logically persuading opponents.

However, when observing real-world debates in the political arena before presidential elections or speeches leading up to parliamentary elections, one may find that such tactics surprisingly yield results.

If our world were filled only with rational and mature individuals, we would only see logical debates. Unfortunately, since the world is inhabited by various types of people, understanding techniques like those Schopenhauer described, which may seem unscrupulous, might be necessary to avoid becoming a victim, even if we don’t use them ourselves.

“Aristotle’s ‘Topics’: On Argumentation…”

Towards the end of the book, there’s a passage introducing Aristotle’s views on argumentation from “Topics.” With that, I conclude this text.

  • “Do not engage in arguments with just anyone, but rather with discerning individuals who, as someone who knows better, would never say anything ridiculous. Engage in debate with those who have enough discernment not to make unreasonable statements and who are willing to listen to your rational arguments and agree if your rational arguments are convincing, regardless of where they come from. Lastly, hold the truth in high regard, and engage in debate with those who have enough discernment to willingly listen if the truth lies with the opponent, and to admit their own opinion’s unfairness.”

“The Art of Winning Arguments: Eristic Dialectic”

  • Author: Schopenhauer
  • Publication Date: June 10, 2016
  • ISBN13: 9791186137260
  • Available at Yes24: http://app.ac/pj6Rtwa13