A Philosopher's Ethics

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by greenberg, Nov 17, 2007.

  1. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member

    Says Schopenhauer in The Ultimate Stratagem (XXXVIII) of his Art Of Controversy - the art of being right:

    He lists the 38 stratagems:


    1. The Extension
    2. The Homonymy
    3. Generalize your Opponent's Specific Statements
    4. Conceal Your Game
    5. False Propositions
    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 Favourable to 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. 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. Your opponent by Mere Bombast
    37. A Faulty Proof Refutes His Whole Position
    38. Become Personal, Insulting, Rude

    What should be the ethics of someone who engages in philosophical discussion?
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  3. redarmy11 Registered Senior Member

    #25 - Find One Instance to The Contrary - is valid in certain contexts. No, I can't think of an example just now, but you know I'm right. The rest are just bullshit and not worth addressing (how you can expect me to is beyond me).
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  5. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member

    The listed stratagems are IMO mostly low blows and cheap shots that can get one to win a debate, the one using them counting on the opponent to refuse to stoop so low as to use them as well.

    As such, these stratagems are good examples of something I think a person with intellectual and philosophical ethics should not do. So in this sense, Schopenhauer's stratagems are about a philosopher's ethics - only negatively defined.

    What about a positively defined intellectual and philosophical ethics?

    For example -

    Don't take on an opponent weaker or stronger than yourself.
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  7. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member

    Hm. The ethics of engaging in philosophy aren't an interesting topic?

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  8. Avatar smoking revolver Valued Senior Member

    A truth that's told with bad intent
    Beats all the lies you can invent.

    -William Blake
  9. Gustav Banned Banned

  10. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member


    But do you agree with Schopenhauer's Stratagems? Do you think they are something one should employ?
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Clearly his strategems are those employed by the very people he wishes NOT to argue with.
    They are counter to his earlier comment:
    e.g. "to appeal to reason and not to authority" is stated in the text you quote, and yet strategem 30 says: "Appeal to Authority Rather Than Reason".

    Most are also just the obvious logical fallacies:
    Appeal to Authority, Strawman, False Premise, Red Herring etc.
    So clearly these are what to avoid.

    Personally I think Aristotle had it spot on.

    But these strategems are worth remembering when discussing with any number of people on this site. It might be worth (for a laugh if not as a means of constructive criticism) dissecting someone's "argument" merely in reference to specific strategems.
  12. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

  13. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    I don't know what is meant by these two.

    This seems to be OK in some instances.
    I would add 'intend' to make your opponent angry. Though I must confess to having done that also.

    Don't understand.
    This seems unavoidable, though I can see where it can be abused if one consciously is being slippery.

    from what they have said, I assume. This seems allright though with some sense of tentativeness, I guess. Perhaps I don't understand this one.

    I agree with Gustav on this one.
    Which has always seemed OK if the methodology of the authority is 'approved' and or their 'expertise' is approved. This may seem obvious in a debate where one side quotes the Bible, but gets hazier with issues like Global Warming - say ten years ago.

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, adding flexibility around cultural relativism.

    I doubt I have lived up to any model I would put forward. If we are thinking of participation in Sciforums then to me it is a broader interaction than a philosophical discussion. It is a series of encounters with other people and a portion of that is a philosophical discussion. And in that set of encounters I allow myself much greater freedom than I would in a pure philosophical discussion, whatever that is. I have had some, I suppose, but they are rare. I felt at times on the extreme skepticism thread it was like that for me and in a few other places - for some sustained period that is - and perhaps there I lived up to a model I might put forward.
  14. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member

    In the text linked to, Schopenhauer discusses each stratagem.
    I am presuming the posters here are familiar with his Euristics - The Art of Being Right.

    I find this tricky because it implies that a person will only understand if spoken to in the same language he uses - ie. if it is done to them the way they do unto others.
    Some of us can't get that high, or don't wish to stoop that low, in order to make ourselves understood by the other.
  15. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    Thanks, I probably should have gotten that.

    Good point. I guess I was thinking more in terms of intent than the details of what is written.
  16. Reiku Banned Banned

    I think perhaps the main point for any good philosopher, is to remain unbiased of any personal attatchments of any analysis of nature at large.
  17. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member

    1. Is that possible?

    2. What would be the use of it?
  18. Gustav Banned Banned

    what does "intellectual" mean to you?


    lets take the sapien out. i alone shall retain it
  19. Gustav Banned Banned

  20. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member

    Last edited: Dec 1, 2007
  21. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

  22. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    They should respect the mode through which another person is approaching knowledge in a discussion.

    Greenberg seems conscious of what he is seeking in a thread and is aware that other people have other purposes and modes of inquiry and he tries to work with and around these sometimes conflicting interests. I think this is commendable.

    I have encountered others who, for example, treat an exploration of ideas as a failure to perform a rigorous formal argument and found myself attacked repeatedly, while the other person also said things that I found interesting for my exploration. Not really taking a step back and seeing the problem I continued until I felt rather unpleasant - take that in a variety of possible meanings.

    On some threads, notably the skepticism thread, I found that my urge to explore was respected and others worked around or with me depending on their needs and interests. I'd like to emphasize: around me or with me.

    I certainly do sometimes wonder how useful I am at rigorous, rational thinking. I still hope and actually think I can contribute despite my failures there.

    If I put forward a pernicious view, well, that's a different case, have at me.
  23. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member

    "Intellectual" is a complex concept, so you'll need to be more specific in regard to which context you wish to speak about it.

    And I don't know where you're heading with this connection to the Milgram experiment.

    You speak in riddles!

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