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The good old Schopenhauer once wrote a most wonderful book called… Well, he actually never called it anything, for after writing it he decided people already learn more about the subject than is healthy without further assistance. Nevertheless after he died those sneaky editors published the thing, and thank Bog they did, for it is wonderful.

Such book passes by such names as “Eristik”, “Eristic Dialectics”, “The art controversy” or (my favourite) “How to win a dispute without having to be right, in 38 stratagems”. Basically he trashes the naive Greek idea that through debate human beings reach out for truth and saw it all for what it was: a desperate struggle to be on top. Or something like it.

He lays out 38 manoeuvres you can use to squash your interlocutor. In the original manuscript, it seems, the stratagems are unnamed, but at some point the author states that it would be good if each one had a proper name so that they could be easily referenced and examined. My first copy of this book (in Portuguese) came with names, but after that i lost the first and bought a different version without names. I set out to make my own names for them.

It turned out to be a massive help, for the first names reflected the particular reading of the translator/ editor, and after giving my own names i could better use my own views. I’ll try to find the time to talk more about the book and stuff, i actually think a new version of the system (Eristik 2.0) is needed, but right now let me just get my list out there. There it goes.

  • S01. expand/ generalize
  • S02. homonym
  • S03. absolutify
  • S04. dissimulate premisses
  • S05. false premisses
  • S06. hide the petitio principii
  • S07. over-specific arguments {or accelerated arguments}
  • S08. pestering
  • S09. disordered reasoning
  • S10. contrary bait
  • S11. force induction
  • S12. loaded naming
  • S13. force opposition
  • S14. claim victory
  • S15. unevident bait
  • S16. demand personal corroboration
  • S17. subtle distinction
  • S18. force change of subject {by interruption}
  • S19. dodge proof exigency
  • S20. force deduction
  • S21. sophistic counterargument {fire with fire}
  • S22. accuse of synonym {of petitio principii}
  • S23. incite exaggeration
  • S24. forge consequences
  • S25. false instance
  • S26. retort the argument
  • S27. insist on the irritating
  • S28. use the audience
  • S29. digress
  • S30. authority/ prejudices/ common sense
  • S31. ironic incompetence
  • S32. odious label
  • S33. accuse practical invalidity
  • S34. insist after the dodge
  • S35. argue by will
  • S36. cacophony
  • S37. insist on the error
  • S38. resort to meanness

As you might see, there is some degree (not too subtle at all) of interpretation there. Some things i make much more specific than intended, others i generalize. The stratagem S30, for example, i guess needed to be at least two different stratagems and maybe three. Stratagems S11 and S20 i find almost twins and think should be neighbours. I wish the S12 could be expanded at least to incorporate the loaded question, or maybe a whole category should be created for all kinds of “loading”. Particularly, the S16 rewording (from “ad hominen (or person-directed) argument” to “demand personal corroboration”) should point to my ideas about how all of this should go.

Even more relativism, if you will.

And obviously my prepending of an S to the stratagem numbers means that i will propose new categories and a new order and so on and so forth.

But i’ll have to leave this for another time.


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. By un-naive truth « Truth of the Lesser Men on 20 Jul 2008 at 10:55 am

    […] of the original arguments, completely out of their contexts and over-expanded. It’s just eristik’s first […]

  2. By redeeming the 35th « Truth of the Lesser Men on 14 Dec 2008 at 10:10 am

    […] ERISTIK, ethics, will I have already talked about Schopenhauer’s Eristik, and boy that book deserves lots of commentary. Right now, i […]

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