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Meet him With a Counter-Argument as Bad as His

 

Techniques General persuasion > The Art of Being Right > Meet him With a Counter-Argument as Bad as His

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

When your opponent uses a merely superficial or sophistical argument and you see through it, you can, it is true, refute it by setting forth its captious and superficial character; but it is better to meet him with a counter-argument which is just as superficial and sophistical, and so dispose of him; for it is with victory that you are concerned, and not with truth. If, for example, he adopts an argumentum ad hominem, it is sufficient to take the force out of it by a counter argumentum ad hominem or argumentum ex concessis; and, in general, instead of setting forth the true state of the case at equal length, it is shorter to take this course if it lies open to you.

Example

Her ladyship is most efficacious in her deliberations and, notwithstanding, might wish to entertain the consideration of bilateral interaction within her annual parade.

Yes, she seems to be acting foolishly and without consideration, but she has heart and passion and who else would inspire us this way?

Discussion

A sophistical argument is one based on sophistry, which uses elegance of speech rather than logical accuracy. When the other person is not being logical then it is easy for you to respond, in this case by descending to the same level, using the same style of language and with emotional appeal rather than rational correctness.

When people use flowery language, they are often trying either to impress you with their linguistic skills or conceal their lack of real knowledge. When you reply in kind, few will understand exactly as you said and so you may carry incomplete arguments forward.

Ad hominem means 'Against the person' or a personal attack.

Ad rem means 'to the point' or 'pertinent'.

Ex concessis means 'in view of what has already been accepted'.

'Meet him With a Counter-Argument as Bad as His' is the twenty-first of Schopenhauer's stratagems.

See also

Emotions

 

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