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96 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars classic intellectual satire
Schopenhauer's trademark pessimism always turned me off to his philosophical writings, but this book is a perfect expression of his cynicism, since it's a satire rather than an academic work of philosophy. It's written as a how-to manual with 38 easy rules for winning an argument as your hapless opponent clings to quaint standards of logic and rational debate. A compact...
Published on 29 Dec 2004

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3.0 out of 5 stars I'm always right, so forget the other reviews
This is not so much about being right but about tricks and tips to help you in debates so that in the end the observers will agree you have. It's good to see that when it comes to debating (politics, science, philosophy, etc.) nothing much has changed in the past century or so. However, the book could do with an update and some more contemporary examples, so come on Mr...
Published 13 months ago by Dr Dombo


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96 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars classic intellectual satire, 29 Dec 2004
By A Customer
Schopenhauer's trademark pessimism always turned me off to his philosophical writings, but this book is a perfect expression of his cynicism, since it's a satire rather than an academic work of philosophy. It's written as a how-to manual with 38 easy rules for winning an argument as your hapless opponent clings to quaint standards of logic and rational debate. A compact book, it would fit nicely on the bookshelf between Machiavelli's "The Prince" and Voltaire's "Candide." The basic premise is that it's more important to win an argument than to reveal the truth, and that rhetorical tricks are more effective than sound reasoning in achieving this goal. He recommends such tactics as personal insults, changing the subject, and confusing your opponent, with a wry analysis of why each will give you the upper hand in a public debate. Despite being newly published in late 2004, it seems that every politician has already memorized its strategies - and sadly (but to Schopenhauer's credit as an author) they all seem to work in contemporary public discourse. If it weren't for Schopenhauer's sardonic tone this would be a very bleak and depressing book, but it's written with such fine irony that it's a very funny (albeit bitter) look at the shamelessly bad arguments we hear every day.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, easy to read and extremely useful, 3 Jan 2008
This is, basically, a short primer on rhetorics: how to come off best in arguments, irrespective of whether you are right or wrong. In fact, despite being close to 200 years old, it would quite happily fit into the "Idiot's Guide" series: it is concise, understandable, witty and of great practical use.

In some respects, this book reads a bit like "The Art of War". It is a catalogue of 38 rhetorical "dirty tricks", which include diversion, obfuscation, over-generalisation, mis-categorisation, false syllogism, personal attack etc., with short explanations (from a couple of sentences to 3-4 pages) and illustrative examples. It's all very easy to absorb, and you can easily finish the whole thing in a couple of hours.

There is some argument over whether this book was intended as an out-and-out satire. Undoubtedly, having a dig at the academic establishment was one of the things on Schopenhauer's mind, and much of the book is tongue-in-cheek. This does not make it any less useful. The underlying theme is dead serious: if you cannot recognise and counter-act sophistry and demagoguery, you will end up getting bamboozled into accepting and maybe even endorsing logically unsound arguments - at best losing face, at worst getting conned. This stuff should be taught in schools!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strategies of persuasion, Controversial Dialectic, or never mind the truth, 11 Nov 2012
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R. F. Stevens "richard23491" (Ickenham UK) - See all my reviews
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For many years I speculated that Politicians must use some reference books where they find all the methods for avoiding answering a question, or for winning an argument when the point they are defending is patently wrong.

Finally I have discovered the answer here in this brief set of essays on "Controversial Dialectic" by Arthur Schopenhauer, which he maintained "is the art of disputing, and of disputing in such a way as to hold one's own, whether one is right or wrong." And to reinforce the point he added "in debating we must put objective truth aside, or rather, we must regard it as an accidental circumstance, and look only to the defence of our own position and the refutation of our opponent's."

Although he was thinking about these thirty-eight 'Strategies' nearly two hundred years ago, and they are actually rooted in the rhetorical techniques used by the Greek Sophists so despised by Plato and Socrates a couple of millennia previously, they are still widely in use today. If nothing else one should read the book to familiarise oneself with the canon and thus forewarned be more able to resist or even uproot the sophistry of someone trying to argue that, for example, black is white, or that spending cuts, withdrawal of facilities, and closures will offer a better public service.

This revised 2011 edition is actually based on the 1896 translation by T. Bailey Saunders, and has discarded some of the examples no longer useful in a modern context. All of the 'Strategies' are here, and clearly explained. Some are so simple as to be obvious, and are in daily use by almost everyone from children to politicians, from the gutter press to the legal profession, others are more subtle, and require some skill and forethought in their application. Schopenhauer regarded all of them as being unscrupulous and specifically refrained from publishing them, but the posthumous collation and dissemination of the essays has proved to be popular and enduring.

The introduction and comments by A C Grayling make it much easier for us to understand Schopenhauer's 'Strategies' and why he is so 'cynically' describing them for us. Schopenhauer himself adds three Appendices which also help clarify his ideas and reasons.

Some have called it a satire, some thought it Machiavellian, others find it entertaining. I found it none of these, simply more of a telling reflection on modern public life, and yet it is prosaic because it shows that nothing much has changed with human interaction in millennia. I wish I had come across this when I was still at school.

If you are not sure if someone is trying to hoodwink you, then read this. Being a short book it will not take long. It will help you to understand what they are doing, and might even offer an appropriate counter strategy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very amusing to read!, 8 Oct 2012
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Just started reading this book by Arthur Schopenhauer. Very amusing to read and who knows maybe useful. However this work seems to be intended as an intellectual joke, I sure get the feeling this man meant what he wrote. Most amusing I find to be the examples, which are all very fermiliar. A nice and countrary book full of tricks to out discuss an opponent even when you're wrong. It's not about who is right or wrong in a logic sense, but it's about who wins and doesn't lose his face :-)
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly superb, crafty, sneaky and delicious, 2 April 2010
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Yay!! (UK) - See all my reviews
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Those with the best arguments, don't always win... and the question is why not?
If you've ever told the truth, but been disbelieved, then you NEED to read this. It's how con men and liars operate... and how you can dismantle their lies and deceptions.

It's such an amazing book, that I've bought 2 hard copies in addition to the original paperback. I give it out as "gifts" as it's life-changing.

It's how to debate and argue - in the real world, where tricks will be used against you.

The most important thing it teaches you is that Truth is separate from dialectics. You can lie and win, and in a courtroom the other side will by lying as if their lives depended on it. Any barrister may try this - and you'll know 1. what tactics they're using 2. how to discredit them 3 how to make the judge laugh his socks off - as you fire missiles at them that noone expected in a million years.

Schopenhauer is amazing - a true genius - who should be put on a pedestal - for his ability to dissect logical fallacies.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I'm always right, so forget the other reviews, 21 July 2013
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This is not so much about being right but about tricks and tips to help you in debates so that in the end the observers will agree you have. It's good to see that when it comes to debating (politics, science, philosophy, etc.) nothing much has changed in the past century or so. However, the book could do with an update and some more contemporary examples, so come on Mr Schopenhauer!
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5.0 out of 5 stars You need this!, 11 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Art of Always Being Right: The 38 Subtle Ways of Persuation (Kindle Edition)
No, really. This book is excellent and you will quickly find that arguments you normally loose start going your way.

Go on, buy it!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Art Not Science, 9 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Art of Always Being Right: The 38 Subtle Ways of Persuation (Kindle Edition)
"Grayling's" introduction is worth the price of this book. The essay is written in a pessimistic style which makes it hard going however, the nuggets of knowledge make it worth while.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, 18 April 2012
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It was very thin but the content is great. It's more of a handbook than a thick educational book. The points are very good and help in every day life as well!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 16 Aug 2014
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Great purchase, quick delivery.
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