The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer; The Art of Controversy
Arthur Schopenhauer

Part 1 out of 2







The volume now before the reader is a tardy addition to a series in
which I have endeavoured to present Schopenhauer's minor writings in
an adequate form.

Its contents are drawn entirely from his posthumous papers. A
selection of them was given to the world some three of four years
after his death by his friend and literary executor, Julius
Frauenstaedt, who for this and other offices of piety, has received
less recognition than he deserves. The papers then published have
recently been issued afresh, with considerable additions and
corrections, by Dr. Eduard Grisebach, who is also entitled to
gratitude for the care with which he has followed the text of the
manuscripts, now in the Royal Library at Berlin, and for having drawn
attention--although in terms that are unnecessarily severe--to a
number of faults and failings on the part of the previous editor.

The fact that all Schopenhauer's works, together with a volume of his
correspondence, may now be obtained in a certain cheap collection of
the best national and foreign literature displayed in almost every
bookshop in Germany, is sufficient evidence that in his own country
the writer's popularity is still very great; nor does the demand for
translations indicate that his fame has at all diminished abroad. The
favour with which the new edition of his posthumous papers has been
received induces me, therefore, to resume a task which I thought, five
years ago, that I had finally completed; and it is my intention to
bring out one more volume, selected partly from these papers and
partly from his _Parerga_.

A small part of the essay on _The Art of Controversy_ was published in
Schopenhauer's lifetime, in the chapter of the _Parerga_ headed _Zur
Logik und Dialektik_. The intelligent reader will discover that a good
deal of its contents is of an ironical character. As regards the last
three essays I must observe that I have omitted such passages
as appear to be no longer of any general interest or otherwise
unsuitable. I must also confess to having taken one or two liberties
with the titles, in order that they may the more effectively fulfil
the purpose for which titles exist. In other respects I have adhered
to the original with the kind of fidelity which aims at producing
an impression as nearly as possible similar to that produced by the


February, 1896



By the ancients, Logic and Dialectic were used as synonymous terms;
although [Greek: logizesthai], "to think over, to consider, to
calculate," and [Greek: dialegesthai], "to converse," are two very
different things.

The name Dialectic was, as we are informed by Diogenes Laertius, first
used by Plato; and in the _Phaedrus, Sophist, Republic_, bk. vii., and
elsewhere, we find that by Dialectic he means the regular employment
of the reason, and skill in the practice of it. Aristotle also uses
the word in this sense; but, according to Laurentius Valla, he was
the first to use Logic too in a similar way.[1] Dialectic, therefore,
seems to be an older word than Logic. Cicero and Quintilian use the
words in the same general signification.[2]

[Footnote 1: He speaks of [Greek: dyscherelai logicai], that is,
"difficult points," [Greek: protasis logicae aporia logicae]]

[Footnote 2: Cic. _in Lucullo: Dialecticam inventam esse, veri et
falsi quasi disceptatricem. Topica_, c. 2: _Stoici enim judicandi vias
diligenter persecuti sunt, ea scientia, quam_ Dialecticen _appellant_.
Quint., lib. ii., 12: _Itaque haec pars dialecticae, sive illam
disputatricem dicere malimus_; and with him this latter word appears
to be the Latin equivalent for Dialectic. (So far according to "Petri
Rami dialectica, Audomari Talaei praelectionibus illustrata." 1569.)]

This use of the words and synonymous terms lasted through the Middle
Ages into modern times; in fact, until the present day. But more
recently, and in particular by Kant, Dialectic has often been employed
in a bad sense, as meaning "the art of sophistical controversy";
and hence Logic has been preferred, as of the two the more innocent
designation. Nevertheless, both originally meant the same thing; and
in the last few years they have again been recognised as synonymous.

It is a pity that the words have thus been used from of old, and that
I am not quite at liberty to distinguish their meanings. Otherwise, I
should have preferred to define _Logic_ (from [Greek: logos], "word"
and "reason," which are inseparable) as "the science of the laws of
thought, that is, of the method of reason"; and _Dialectic_ (from
[Greek: dialegesthai], "to converse"--and every conversation
communicates either facts or opinions, that is to say, it is
historical or deliberative) as "the art of disputation," in the modern
sense of the word. It it clear, then, that Logic deals with a subject
of a purely _a priori_ character, separable in definition from
experience, namely, the laws of thought, the process of reason or the
[Greek: logos], the laws, that is, which reason follows when it is
left to itself and not hindered, as in the case of solitary thought on
the part of a rational being who is in no way misled. Dialectic, on
the other hand, would treat of the intercourse between two rational
beings who, because they are rational, ought to think in common, but
who, as soon as they cease to agree like two clocks keeping exactly
the same time, create a disputation, or intellectual contest. Regarded
as purely rational beings, the individuals would, I say, necessarily
be in agreement, and their variation springs from the difference
essential to individuality; in other words, it is drawn from

Logic, therefore, as the science of thought, or the science of the
process of pure reason, should be capable of being constructed _a
priori_. Dialectic, for the most part, can be constructed only _a
posteriori_; that is to say, we may learn its rules by an experiential
knowledge of the disturbance which pure thought suffers through the
difference of individuality manifested in the intercourse between
two rational beings, and also by acquaintance with the means which
disputants adopt in order to make good against one another their own
individual thought, and to show that it is pure and objective. For
human nature is such that if A. and B. are engaged in thinking in
common, and are communicating their opinions to one another on any
subject, so long as it is not a mere fact of history, and A. perceives
that B.'s thoughts on one and the same subject are not the same as his
own, he does not begin by revising his own process of thinking, so as
to discover any mistake which he may have made, but he assumes that
the mistake has occurred in B.'s. In other words, man is naturally
obstinate; and this quality in him is attended with certain results,
treated of in the branch of knowledge which I should like to call
Dialectic, but which, in order to avoid misunderstanding, I shall call
Controversial or Eristical Dialectic. Accordingly, it is the branch
of knowledge which treats of the obstinacy natural to man. Eristic is
only a harsher name for the same thing.

Controversial Dialectic is the art of disputing, and of disputing in
such a way as to hold one's own, whether one is in the right or the
wrong--_per fas et nefas_.[1] A man may be objectively in the right,
and nevertheless in the eyes of bystanders, and sometimes in his own,
he may come off worst. For example, I may advance a proof of some
assertion, and my adversary may refute the proof, and thus appear to
have refuted the assertion, for which there may, nevertheless, be
other proofs. In this case, of course, my adversary and I change
places: he comes off best, although, as a matter of fact, he is in the

[Footnote 1: According to Diogenes Laertius, v., 28, Aristotle put
Rhetoric and Dialectic together, as aiming at persuasion, [Greek: to
pithanon]; and Analytic and Philosophy as aiming at truth. Aristotle
does, indeed, distinguish between (1) _Logic_, or Analytic, as the
theory or method of arriving at true or apodeictic conclusions; and
(2) _Dialectic_ as the method of arriving at conclusions that are
accepted or pass current as true, [Greek: endoxa] _probabilia_;
conclusions in regard to which it is not taken for granted that they
are false, and also not taken for granted that they are true in
themselves, since that is not the point. What is this but the art of
being in the right, whether one has any reason for being so or not, in
other words, the art of attaining the appearance of truth, regardless
of its substance? That is, then, as I put it above.

Aristotle divides all conclusions into logical and dialectical, in the
manner described, and then into eristical. (3) _Eristic_ is the method
by which the form of the conclusion is correct, but the premisses, the
materials from which it is drawn, are not true, but only appear to be
true. Finally (4) _Sophistic_ is the method in which the form of the
conclusion is false, although it seems correct. These three last
properly belong to the art of Controversial Dialectic, as they have
no objective truth in view, but only the appearance of it, and pay
no regard to truth itself; that is to say, they aim at victory.
Aristotle's book on _Sophistic Conclusions_ was edited apart from the
others, and at a later date. It was the last book of his _Dialectic_.]

If the reader asks how this is, I reply that it is simply the
natural baseness of human nature. If human nature were not base, but
thoroughly honourable, we should in every debate have no other aim
than the discovery of truth; we should not in the least care whether
the truth proved to be in favour of the opinion which we had begun by
expressing, or of the opinion of our adversary. That we should
regard as a matter of no moment, or, at any rate, of very secondary
consequence; but, as things are, it is the main concern. Our
innate vanity, which is particularly sensitive in reference to our
intellectual powers, will not suffer us to allow that our first
position was wrong and our adversary's right. The way out of this
difficulty would be simply to take the trouble always to form a
correct judgment. For this a man would have to think before he spoke.
But, with most men, innate vanity is accompanied by loquacity and
innate dishonesty. They speak before they think; and even though they
may afterwards perceive that they are wrong, and that what they assert
is false, they want it to seem the contrary. The interest in truth,
which may be presumed to have been their only motive when they stated
the proposition alleged to be true, now gives way to the interests of
vanity: and so, for the sake of vanity, what is true must seem false,
and what is false must seem true.

However, this very dishonesty, this persistence in a proposition which
seems false even to ourselves, has something to be said for it. It
often happens that we begin with the firm conviction of the truth
of our statement; but our opponent's argument appears to refute it.
Should we abandon our position at once, we may discover later on
that we were right after all; the proof we offered was false, but
nevertheless there was a proof for our statement which was true. The
argument which would have been our salvation did not occur to us at
the moment. Hence we make it a rule to attack a counter-argument, even
though to all appearances it is true and forcible, in the belief that
its truth is only superficial, and that in the course of the dispute
another argument will occur to us by which we may upset it, or succeed
in confirming the truth of our statement. In this way we are almost
compelled to become dishonest; or, at any rate, the temptation to do
so is very great. Thus it is that the weakness of our intellect and
the perversity of our will lend each other mutual support; and that,
generally, a disputant fights not for truth, but for his proposition,
as though it were a battle _pro aris et focis_. He sets to work _per
fas et nefas_; nay, as we have seen, he cannot easily do otherwise.
As a rule, then, every man will insist on maintaining whatever he
has said, even though for the moment he may consider it false or

[Footnote 1: Machiavelli recommends his Prince to make use of every
moment that his neighbour is weak, in order to attack him; as
otherwise his neighbour may do the same. If honour and fidelity
prevailed in the world, it would be a different matter; but as these
are qualities not to be expected, a man must not practise them
himself, because he will meet with a bad return. It is just the same
in a dispute: if I allow that my opponent is right as soon as he seems
to be so, it is scarcely probable that he will do the same when the
position is reversed; and as he acts wrongly, I am compelled to act
wrongly too. It is easy to say that we must yield to truth, without
any prepossession in favour of our own statements; but we cannot
assume that our opponent will do it, and therefore we cannot do
it either. Nay, if I were to abandon the position on which I had
previously bestowed much thought, as soon as it appeared that he was
right, it might easily happen that I might be misled by a momentary
impression, and give up the truth in order to accept an error.]

To some extent every man is armed against such a procedure by his own
cunning and villainy. He learns by daily experience, and thus comes
to have his own _natural Dialectic_, just as he has his own _natural
Logic_. But his Dialectic is by no means as safe a guide as his Logic.
It is not so easy for any one to think or draw an inference contrary
to the laws of Logic; false judgments are frequent, false conclusions
very rare. A man cannot easily be deficient in natural Logic, but he
may very easily be deficient in natural Dialectic, which is a gift
apportioned in unequal measure. In so far natural Dialectic resembles
the faculty of judgment, which differs in degree with every man; while
reason, strictly speaking, is the same. For it often happens that in
a matter in which a man is really in the right, he is confounded or
refuted by merely superficial arguments; and if he emerges victorious
from a contest, he owes it very often not so much to the correctness
of his judgment in stating his proposition, as to the cunning and
address with which he defended it.

Here, as in all other cases, the best gifts are born with a man;
nevertheless, much may be done to make him a master of this art by
practice, and also by a consideration of the tactics which may be used
to defeat an opponent, or which he uses himself for a similar purpose.
Therefore, even though Logic may be of no very real, practical use,
Dialectic may certainly be so; and Aristotle, too, seems to me to
have drawn up his Logic proper, or Analytic, as a foundation and
preparation for his Dialectic, and to have made this his chief
business. Logic is concerned with the mere form of propositions;
Dialectic, with their contents or matter--in a word, with their
substance. It was proper, therefore, to consider the general form of
all propositions before proceeding to particulars.

Aristotle does not define the object of Dialectic as exactly as I
have done it here; for while he allows that its principal object
is disputation, he declares at the same time that it is also the
discovery of truth.[1] Again, he says, later on, that if, from the
philosophical point of view, propositions are dealt with according to
their truth, Dialectic regards them according to their plausibility,
or the measure in which they will win the approval and assent of
others.[2] He is aware that the objective truth of a proposition must
be distinguished and separated from the way in which it is pressed
home, and approbation won for it; but he fails to draw a sufficiently
sharp distinction between these two aspects of the matter, so as to
reserve Dialectic for the latter alone.[3] The rules which he often
gives for Dialectic contain some of those which properly belong to
Logic; and hence it appears to me that he has not provided a clear
solution of the problem.

[Footnote 1: _Topica_, bk. i., 2.]

[Footnote 2: _Ib_., 12.]

[Footnote 3: On the other hand, in his book _De Sophisticis Elenchis_,
he takes too much trouble to separate _Dialectic_ from _Sophistic_
and _Eristic_, where the distinction is said to consist in this, that
dialectical conclusions are true in their form and their contents,
while sophistical and eristical conclusions are false.

Eristic so far differs from Sophistic that, while the master of
Eristic aims at mere victory, the Sophist looks to the reputation,
and with it, the monetary rewards which he will gain. But whether a
proposition is true in respect of its contents is far too uncertain a
matter to form the foundation of the distinction in question; and
it is a matter on which the disputant least of all can arrive at
certainty; nor is it disclosed in any very sure form even by the
result of the disputation. Therefore, when Aristotle speaks of
_Dialectic_, we must include in it Sophistic, Eristic, and Peirastic,
and define it as "the art of getting the best of it in a dispute," in
which, unquestionably, the safest plan is to be in the right to begin
with; but this in itself is not enough in the existing disposition
of mankind, and, on the other hand, with the weakness of the human
intellect, it is not altogether necessary. Other expedients are
required, which, just because they are unnecessary to the attainment
of objective truth, may also be used when a man is objectively in the
wrong; and whether or not this is the case, is hardly ever a matter of
complete certainty.

I am of opinion, therefore, that a sharper distinction should be drawn
between Dialectic and Logic than Aristotle has given us; that to Logic
we should assign objective truth as far as it is merely formal, and
that Dialectic should be confined to the art of gaining one's point,
and contrarily, that Sophistic and Eristic should not be distinguished
from Dialectic in Aristotle's fashion, since the difference which he
draws rests on objective and material truth; and in regard to what
this is, we cannot attain any clear certainty before discussion; but
we are compelled, with Pilate, to ask, _What is truth_? For truth
is in the depths, [Greek: en butho hae halaetheia] (a saying of
Democritus, _Diog. Laert_., ix., 72). Two men often engage in a warm
dispute, and then return to their homes each of the other's opinion,
which he has exchanged for his own. It is easy to say that in every
dispute we should have no other aim than the advancement of truth; but
before dispute no one knows where it is, and through his opponent's
arguments and his own a man is misled.]

We must always keep the subject of one branch of knowledge quite
distinct from that of any other. To form a clear idea of the province
of Dialectic, we must pay no attention to objective truth, which is an
affair of Logic; we must regard it simply as _the art of getting the
best of it in a dispute_, which, as we have seen, is all the easier if
we are actually in the right. In itself Dialectic has nothing to do
but to show how a man may defend himself against attacks of every
kind, and especially against dishonest attacks; and, in the
same fashion, how he may attack another man's statement without
contradicting himself, or generally without being defeated. The
discovery of objective truth must be separated from the art of winning
acceptance for propositions; for objective truth is an entirely
different matter: it is the business of sound judgment, reflection and
experience, for which there is no special art.

Such, then, is the aim of Dialectic. It has been defined as the Logic
of appearance; but the definition is a wrong one, as in that case it
could only be used to repel false propositions. But even when a man
has the right on his side, he needs Dialectic in order to defend and
maintain it; he must know what the dishonest tricks are, in order to
meet them; nay, he must often make use of them himself, so as to beat
the enemy with his own weapons.

Accordingly, in a dialectical contest 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.

In following out the rules to this end, no respect should be paid to
objective truth, because we usually do not know where the truth lies.
As I have said, a man often does not himself know whether he is in the
right or not; he often believes it, and is mistaken: both sides often
believe it. Truth is in the depths. At the beginning of a contest each
man believes, as a rule, that right is on his side; in the course of
it, both become doubtful, and the truth is not determined or confirmed
until the close.

Dialectic, then, need have nothing to do with truth, as little as the
fencing master considers who is in the right when a dispute leads to a
duel. Thrust and parry is the whole business. Dialectic is the art of
intellectual fencing; and it is only when we so regard it that we can
erect it into a branch of knowledge. For if we take purely objective
truth as our aim, we are reduced to mere Logic; if we take the
maintenance of false propositions, it is mere Sophistic; and in either
case it would have to be assumed that we were aware of what was true
and what was false; and it is seldom that we have any clear idea of
the truth beforehand. The true conception of Dialectic is, then, that
which we have formed: it is the art of intellectual fencing used for
the purpose of getting the best of it in a dispute; and, although the
name _Eristic_ would be more suitable, it is more correct to call it
controversial Dialectic, _Dialectica eristica_.

Dialectic in this sense of the word has no other aim but to reduce
to a regular system and collect and exhibit the arts which most men
employ when they observe, in a dispute, that truth is not on their
side, and still attempt to gain the day. Hence, it would be very
inexpedient to pay any regard to objective truth or its advancement in
a science of Dialectic; since this is not done in that original and
natural Dialectic innate in men, where they strive for nothing but
victory. The science of Dialectic, in one sense of the word, is mainly
concerned to tabulate and analyse dishonest stratagems, in order that
in a real debate they may be at once recognised and defeated. It is
for this very reason that Dialectic must admittedly take victory, and
not objective truth, for its aim and purpose.

I am not aware that anything has been done in this direction,
although I have made inquiries far and wide.[1] It is, therefore, an
uncultivated soil. To accomplish our purpose, we must draw from our
experience; we must observe how in the debates which often arise in
our intercourse with our fellow-men this or that stratagem is employed
by one side or the other. By finding out the common elements in tricks
repeated in different forms, we shall be enabled to exhibit certain
general stratagems which may be advantageous, as well for our own use,
as for frustrating others if they use them.

[Footnote 1: Diogenes Laertes tells us that among the numerous
writings on Rhetoric by Theophrastus, all of which have been lost,
there was one entitled [Greek: Agonistikon taes peri tous eristikous
gogous theorias.] That would have been just what we want.]

What follows is to be regarded as a first attempt.


First of all, we must consider the essential nature of every dispute:
what it is that really takes place in it.

Our opponent has stated a thesis, or we ourselves,--it is all one.
There are two modes of refuting it, and two courses that we may

I. The modes are (1) _ad rem_, (2) _ad hominem_ or _ex concessis_.
That is to say: We may show either that the proposition is not in
accordance with the nature of things, i.e., with absolute, objective
truth; or that it is inconsistent with other statements or admissions
of our opponent, i.e., with truth as it appears to him. The latter
mode of arguing a question produces only a relative conviction, and
makes no difference whatever to the objective truth of the matter.

II. The two courses that we may pursue are (1) the direct, and (2) the
indirect refutation. The direct attacks the reason for the thesis; the
indirect, its results. The direct refutation shows that the thesis is
not true; the indirect, that it cannot be true.

The direct course admits of a twofold procedure. Either we may
show that the reasons for the statement are false (_nego majorem,
minorem_); or we may admit the reasons or premisses, but show that the
statement does not follow from them (_nego consequentiam)_; that is,
we attack the conclusion or form of the syllogism.

The direct refutation makes use either of the _diversion_ or of the

_(a)_ The _diversion_.--We accept our opponent's proposition as true,
and then show what follows from it when we bring it into connection
with some other proposition acknowledged to be true. We use the two
propositions as the premisses of a syllogism giving a conclusion which
is manifestly false, as contradicting either the nature of things,[1]
or other statements of our opponent himself; that is to say, the
conclusion is false either _ad rem_ or _ad hominem_.[2] Consequently,
our opponent's proposition must have been false; for, while true
premisses can give only a true conclusion, false premisses need not
always give a false one.

[Footnote 1: If it is in direct contradiction with a perfectly
undoubted, truth, we have reduced our opponent's position _ad

[Footnote 2: Socrates, in _Hippia Maj. et alias_.]

_(b) The instance_, or the example to the contrary.--This consists in
refuting the general proposition by direct reference to particular
cases which are included in it in the way in which it is stated, but
to which it does not apply, and by which it is therefore shown to be
necessarily false.

Such is the framework or skeleton of all forms of disputation; for to
this every kind of controversy may be ultimately reduced. The whole of
a controversy may, however, actually proceed in the manner described,
or only appear to do so; and it may be supported by genuine or
spurious arguments. It is just because it is not easy to make out
the truth in regard to this matter, that debates are so long and so

Nor can we, in ordering the argument, separate actual from apparent
truth, since even the disputants are not certain about it beforehand.
Therefore I shall describe the various tricks or stratagems without
regard to questions of objective truth or falsity; for that is a
matter on which we have no assurance, and which cannot be determined
previously. Moreover, in every disputation or argument on any subject
we must agree about something; and by this, as a principle, we must be
willing to judge the matter in question. We cannot argue with those
who deny principles: _Contra negantem principia non est disputandum_.



The _Extension_.--This consists in carrying your opponent's
proposition beyond its natural limits; in giving it as general a
signification and as wide a sense as possible, so as to exaggerate it;
and, on the other hand, in giving your own proposition as restricted
a sense and as narrow limits as you can, because the more general a
statement becomes, the more numerous are the objections to which it is
open. The defence consists in an accurate statement of the point or
essential question at issue.

Example 1.--I asserted that the English were supreme in drama. My
opponent attempted _to_ give an instance to the contrary, and replied
that it was a well-known fact that in music, and consequently in
opera, they could do nothing at all. I repelled the attack by
reminding him that music was not included in dramatic art, which
covered tragedy and comedy alone. This he knew very well. What he had
done was to try to generalise my proposition, so that it would apply
to all theatrical representations, and, consequently, to opera and
then to music, in order to make certain of defeating me. Contrarily,
we may save our proposition by reducing it within narrower limits
than we had first intended, if our way of expressing it favours this

Example 2.--A. declares that the Peace of 1814 gave back their
independence to all the German towns of the Hanseatic League. B. gives
an instance to the contrary by reciting the fact that Dantzig, which
received its independence from Buonaparte, lost it by that Peace. A.
saves himself thus: "I said 'all German towns,' and Dantzig was in

This trick was mentioned by Aristotle in the _Topica_ (bk. viii., cc.
11, 12).

Example 3.--Lamarck, in his _Philosophic Zoologique_ (vol. i., p.
208), states that the polype has no feeling, because it has no nerves.
It is certain, however, that it has some sort of perception; for it
advances towards light by moving in an ingenious fashion from branch
to branch, and it seizes its prey. Hence it has been assumed that its
nervous system is spread over the whole of its body in equal measure,
as though it were blended with it; for it is obvious that the polype
possesses some faculty of perception without having any separate
organs of sense. Since this assumption refutes Lamarck's position, he
argues thus: "In that case all parts of its body must be capable of
every kind of feeling, and also of motion, of will, of thought. The
polype would have all the organs of the most perfect animal in every
point of its body; every point could see, smell, taste, hear, and so
on; nay, it could think, judge, and draw conclusions; every particle
of its body would be a perfect animal and it would stand higher than
man, as every part of it would possess all the faculties which man
possesses only in the whole of him. Further, there would be no reason
for not extending what is true of the polype to all monads, the most
imperfect of all creatures, and ultimately to the plants, which are
also alive, etc., etc." By using dialectical tricks of this kind a
writer betrays that he is secretly conscious of being in the wrong.
Because it was said that the creature's whole body is sensitive to
light, and is therefore possessed of nerves, he makes out that its
whole body is capable of thought.


The _Homonymy_.--This trick is to extend a proposition to something
which has little or nothing in common with the matter in question but
the similarity of the word; then to refute it triumphantly, and so
claim credit for having refuted the original statement.

It may be noted here that synonyms are two words for the same
conception; homonyms, two conceptions which are covered by the same
word. (See Aristotle, _Topica_, bk. i., c. 13.) "Deep," "cutting,"
"high," used at one moment of bodies at another of tones, are
homonyms; "honourable" and "honest" are synonyms.

This is a trick which may be regarded as identical with the sophism
_ex homonymia_; although, if the sophism is obvious, it will deceive
no one.

_Every light can be extinguished.
The intellect is a light.
Therefore it can be extinguished_.

Here it is at once clear that there are four terms in the syllogism,
"light" being used both in a real and in a metaphorical sense. But if
the sophism takes a subtle form, it is, of course, apt to mislead,
especially where the conceptions which are covered by the same word
are related, and inclined to be interchangeable. It is never subtle
enough to deceive, if it is used intentionally; and therefore cases of
it must be collected from actual and individual experience.

It would be a very good thing if every trick could receive some short
and obviously appropriate name, so that when a man used this or that
particular trick, he could be at once reproached for it.

I will give two examples of the homonymy.

Example 1.--A.: "You are not yet initiated into the mysteries of the
Kantian philosophy."

B.: "Oh, if it's mysteries you're talking of, I'll have nothing to do
with them."

Example 2.--I condemned the principle involved in the word _honour_
as a foolish one; for, according to it, a man loses his honour by
receiving an insult, which he cannot wipe out unless he replies with a
still greater insult, or by shedding his adversary's blood or his own.
I contended that a man's true honour cannot be outraged by what he
suffers, but only and alone by what he does; for there is no saying
what may befall any one of us. My opponent immediately attacked
the reason I had given, and triumphantly proved to me that when a
tradesman was falsely accused of misrepresentation, dishonesty, or
neglect in his business, it was an attack upon his honour, which in
this case was outraged solely by what he suffered, and that he could
only retrieve it by punishing his aggressor and making him retract.

Here, by a homonymy, he was foisting _civic honour_, which is
otherwise called _good name_, and which may be outraged by libel and
slander, on to the conception of _knightly honour_, also called _point
d'honneur_, which may be outraged by insult. And since an attack on
the former cannot be disregarded, but must be repelled by public
disproof, so, with the same justification, an attack on the latter
must not be disregarded either, but it must be defeated by still
greater insult and a duel. Here we have a confusion of two essentially
different things through the homonymy in the word _honour_, and a
consequent alteration of the point in dispute.


Another trick is to take a proposition which is laid down relatively,
and in reference to some particular matter, as though it were uttered
with a general or absolute application; or, at least, to take it in
some quite different sense, and then refute it. Aristotle's example is
as follows:

A Moor is black; but in regard to his teeth he is white; therefore, he
is black and not black at the same moment. This is an obvious sophism,
which will deceive no one. Let us contrast it with one drawn from
actual experience.

In talking of philosophy, I admitted that my system upheld the
Quietists, and commended them. Shortly afterwards the conversation
turned upon Hegel, and I maintained that his writings were mostly
nonsense; or, at any rate, that there were many passages in them where
the author wrote the words, and it was left to the reader to find a
meaning for them. My opponent did not attempt to refute this assertion
_ad rem_, but contented himself by advancing the _argumentum ad
hominem_, and telling me that I had just been praising the Quietists,
and that they had written a good deal of nonsense too.

This I admitted; but, by way of correcting him, I said that I had
praised the Quietists, not as philosophers and writers, that is to
say, for their achievements in the sphere of _theory_, but only as
men, and for their conduct in mere matters of _practice_; and that in
Hegel's case we were talking of theories. In this way I parried the

The first three tricks are of a kindred character. They have this
in common, that something different is attacked from that which was
asserted. It would therefore be an _ignoratio elenchi_ to allow
oneself to be disposed of in such a manner.

For in all the examples that I have given, what the opponent says is
true, but it stands in apparent and not in real contradiction with the
thesis. All that the man whom he is attacking has to do is to deny the
validity of his syllogism; to deny, namely, the conclusion which he
draws, that because his proposition is true, ours is false. In this
way his refutation is itself directly refuted by a denial of his
conclusion, _per negationem consequentiae_. Another trick is to refuse
to admit true premisses because of a foreseen conclusion. There are
two ways of defeating it, incorporated in the next two sections.


If you want to draw a conclusion, you must not let it be foreseen, but
you must get the premisses admitted one by one, unobserved, mingling
them here and there in your talk; otherwise, your opponent will
attempt all sorts of chicanery. Or, if it is doubtful whether your
opponent will admit them, you must advance the premisses of these
premisses; that is to say, you must draw up pro-syllogisms, and get
the premisses of several of them admitted in no definite order.
In this way you conceal your game until you have obtained all the
admissions that are necessary, and so reach your goal by making a
circuit. These rules are given by Aristotle in his _Topica_, bk.
viii., c. 1. It is a trick which needs no illustration.


To prove the truth of a proposition, you may also employ previous
propositions that are not true, should your opponent refuse to admit
the true ones, either because he fails to perceive their truth, or
because he sees that the thesis immediately follows from them. In that
case the plan is to take propositions which are false in themselves
but true for your opponent, and argue from the way in which he thinks,
that is to say, _ex concessis_. For a true conclusion may follow
from false premisses, but not _vice versa_. In the same fashion
your opponent's false propositions may be refuted by other false
propositions, which he, however, takes to be true; for it is with him
that you have to do, and you must use the thoughts that he uses. For
instance, if he is a member of some sect to which you do not belong,
you may employ the declared, opinions of this sect against him, as

[Footnote 1: Aristotle, _Topica_ bk. viii., chap. 2.]


Another plan is to beg the question in disguise by postulating what
has to be proved, either (1) under another name; for instance, "good
repute" instead of "honour"; "virtue" instead of "virginity," etc.;
or by using such convertible terms as "red-blooded animals" and
"vertebrates"; or (2) by making a general assumption covering the
particular point in dispute; for instance, maintaining the uncertainty
of medicine by postulating the uncertainty of all human knowledge. (3)
If, _vice versa_, two things follow one from the other, and one is to
be proved, you may postulate the other. (4) If a general proposition
is to be proved, you may get your opponent to admit every one of the
particulars. This is the converse of the second.[1]

[Footnote 1: _Idem_, chap. 11. The last chapter of this work contains
some good rules for the practice of Dialectics.]


Should the disputation be conducted on somewhat strict and formal
lines, and there be a desire to arrive at a very clear understanding,
he who states the proposition and wants to prove it may proceed
against his opponent by question, in order to show the truth of the
statement from his admissions. The erotematic, or Socratic, method was
especially in use among the ancients; and this and some of the tricks
following later on are akin to it.[1]

[Footnote 1: They are all a free version of chap. 15 of Aristotle's
_De Sophistici Elenchis_.]

The plan is to ask a great many wide-reaching questions at once, so as
to hide what you want to get admitted, and, on the other hand, quickly
propound the argument resulting from the admissions; for those who are
slow of understanding cannot follow accurately, and do not notice any
mistakes or gaps there may be in the demonstration.


This trick consists in making your opponent angry; for when he is
angry he is incapable of judging aright, and perceiving where
his advantage lies. You can make him angry by doing him repeated
injustice, or practising some kind of chicanery, and being generally


Or you may put questions in an order different from that which the
conclusion to be drawn from them requires, and transpose them, so
as not to let him know at what you are aiming. He can then take no
precautions. You may also use his answers for different or even
opposite conclusions, according to their character. This is akin to
the trick of masking your procedure.


If you observe that your opponent designedly returns a negative answer
to the questions which, for the sake of your proposition, you want
him to answer in the affirmative, you must ask the converse of the
proposition, as though it were that which you were anxious to see
affirmed; or, at any rate, you may give him his choice of both, so
that he may not perceive which of them you are asking him to affirm.


If you make an induction, and your opponent grants you the particular
cases by which it is to be supported, you must refrain from asking him
if he also admits the general truth which issues from the particulars,
but introduce it afterwards as a settled and admitted fact; for, in
the meanwhile, he will himself come to believe that he has admitted
it, and the same impression will be received by the audience, because
they will remember the many questions as to the particulars, and
suppose that they must, of course, have attained their end.


If the conversation turns upon some general conception which has
no particular name, but requires some figurative or metaphorical
designation, you must begin by choosing a metaphor that is favourable
to your proposition. For instance, the names used to denote the two
political parties in Spain, _Serviles_ and _Liberates_, are obviously
chosen by the latter. The name _Protestants_ is chosen by themselves,
and also the name _Evangelicals_; but the Catholics call them
_heretics_. Similarly, in regard to the names of things which admit
of a more exact and definite meaning: for example, if your opponent
proposes an _alteration_, you can call it an _innovation_, as this is
an invidious word. If you yourself make the proposal, it will be the
converse. In the first case, you can call the antagonistic principle
"the existing order," in the second, "antiquated prejudice." What an
impartial man with no further purpose to serve would call "public
worship" or a "system of religion," is described by an adherent as
"piety," "godliness": and by an opponent as "bigotry," "superstition."
This is, at bottom, a subtle _petitio principii_. What is sought to be
proved is, first of all, inserted in the definition, whence it is then
taken by mere analysis. What one man calls "placing in safe custody,"
another calls "throwing into prison." A speaker often betrays his
purpose beforehand by the names which he gives to things. One man
talks of "the clergy"; another, of "the priests."

Of all the tricks of controversy, this is the most frequent, and it is
used instinctively. You hear of "religious zeal," or "fanaticism"; a
"_faux pas_" a "piece of gallantry," or "adultery"; an "equivocal," or
a "bawdy" story; "embarrassment," or "bankruptcy"; "through influence
and connection," or by "bribery and nepotism"; "sincere gratitude," or
"good pay."


To make your opponent accept a proposition, you must give him the
counter-proposition as well, leaving him his choice of the two; and
you must render the contrast as glaring as you can, so that to avoid
being paradoxical he will accept the proposition, which is thus made
to look quite probable. For instance, if you want to make him admit
that a boy must do everything that his father tells him to do, ask him
"whether in all things we must obey or disobey our parents." Or, if
a thing is said to occur "often," ask whether by "often" you are to
understand few or many cases; and he will say "many." It is as though
you were to put grey next black, and call it white; or next white, and
call it black.


This, which is an impudent trick, is played as follows: When your
opponent has answered several of your questions without the answers
turning out favourable to the conclusion at which you are aiming,
advance the desired conclusion,--although it does not in the least
follow,--as though it had been proved, and proclaim it in a tone of
triumph. If your opponent is shy or stupid, and you yourself possess
a great deal of impudence and a good voice, the trick may easily
succeed. It is akin to the fallacy _non causae ut causae_.


If you have advanced a paradoxical proposition and find a difficulty
in proving it, you may submit for your opponent's acceptance or
rejection some true proposition, the truth of which, however, is not
quite palpable, as though you wished to draw your proof from it.
Should he reject it because he suspects a trick, you can obtain your
triumph by showing how absurd he is; should he accept it> you have got
reason on your side for the moment, and must now look about you; or
else you can employ the previous trick as well, and maintain that your
paradox is proved by the proposition which he has accepted. For this
an extreme degree of impudence is required; but experience shows cases
of it, and there are people who practise it by instinct.


Another trick is to use arguments _ad hominem_, or _ex concessis_[1]
When your opponent makes a proposition, you must try to see whether it
is not in some way--if needs be, only apparently--inconsistent with
some other proposition which he has made or admitted, or with the
principles of a school or sect which he has commended and approved, or
with the actions of those who support the sect, or else of those who
give it only an apparent and spurious support, or with his own actions
or want of action. For example, should he defend suicide, you may at
once exclaim, "Why don't you hang yourself?" Should he maintain that
Berlin is an unpleasant place to live in, you may say, "Why don't you
leave by the first train?" Some such claptrap is always possible.

[Footnote 1: The truth from which I draw my proof may he either (1) of
an objective and universally valid character; in that case my proof is
veracious, _secundum veritatem_; and it is such proof alone that has
any genuine validity. Or (2) it may be valid only for the person to
whom I wish to prove my proposition, and with whom I am disputing. He
has, that is to say, either taken up some position once for all as a
prejudice, or hastily admitted it in the course of the dispute; and
on this I ground my proof. In that case, it is a proof valid only for
this particular man, _ad kominem. I_ compel my opponent to grant
my proposition, but I fail to establish it as a truth of universal
validity. My proof avails for my opponent alone, but for no one else.
For example, if my opponent is a devotee of Kant's, and I ground my
proof on some utterance of that philosopher, it is a proof which in
itself is only _ad hominem_. If he is a Mohammedan, I may prove my
point by reference to a passage in the Koran, and that is sufficient
for him; but here it is only a proof _ad hominem_,]


If your opponent presses you with a counter-proof, you will often be
able to save yourself by advancing some subtle distinction, which, it
is true, had not previously occurred to you; that is, if the matter
admits of a double application, or of being taken in any ambiguous


If you observe that your opponent has taken up a line of argument
which will end in your defeat, you must not allow him to carry it to
its conclusion, but interrupt the course of the dispute in time, or
break it off altogether, or lead him away from the subject, and bring
him to others. In short, you must effect the trick which will be
noticed later on, the _mutatio controversiae_. (See sec. xxix.)


Should your opponent expressly challenge you to produce any objection
to some definite point in his argument, and you have nothing much to
say, you must try to give the matter a general turn, and then talk
against that. If you are called upon to say why a particular physical
hypothesis cannot be accepted, you may speak of the fallibility of
human knowledge, and give various illustrations of it.


When you have elicited all your premisses, and your opponent has
admitted them, you must refrain from asking him for the conclusion,
but draw it at once for yourself; nay, even though one or other of the
premisses should be lacking, you may take it as though it too had been
admitted, and draw the conclusion. This trick is an application of the
fallacy _non causae ut causae_.


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


If your opponent requires you to admit something from which the
point in dispute will immediately follow, you must refuse to do so,
declaring that it is a _petitio principii_ For he and the audience
will regard a proposition which is near akin to the point in dispute
as identical with it, and in this way you deprive him of his best


Contradiction and contention irritate a man into exaggerating his
statement. By contradicting your opponent you may drive him into
extending beyond its proper limits a statement which, at all events
within those limits and in itself, is true; and when you refute this
exaggerated form of it, you look as though you had also refuted his
original statement. Contrarily, you must take care not to allow
yourself to be misled by contradictions into exaggerating or extending
a statement of your own. It will often happen that your opponent will
himself directly try to extend your statement further than you meant
it; here you must at once stop him, and bring him back to the limits
which you set up; "That's what I said, and no more."


This trick consists in stating a false syllogism. Your opponent makes
a proposition, and by false inference and distortion of his ideas you
force from it other propositions which it does not contain and he does
not in the least mean; nay, which are absurd or dangerous. It then
looks as if his proposition gave rise to others which are inconsistent
either with themselves or with some acknowledged truth, and so it
appears to be indirectly refuted. This is the _diversion_, and it is
another application of the fallacy _non causae ut causae_.


This is a case of the _diversion_ by means of an _instance to the
contrary_. With an induction ([Greek: epagogae]), a great number
of particular instances are required in order to establish it as a
universal proposition; but with the _diversion_ ([Greek: apagogae]) a
single instance, to which the proposition does not apply, is all that
is necessary to overthrow it. This is a controversial method known
as the _instance_--_instantia_, [Greek: enstasis]. For example, "all
ruminants are horned" is a proposition which may be upset by the
single instance of the camel. The _instance_ is a case in which a
universal truth is sought to be applied, and something is inserted in
the fundamental definition of it which is not universally true, and by
which it is upset. But there is room for mistake; and when this trick
is employed by your opponent, you must observe (1) whether the example
which he gives is really true; for there are problems of which the
only true solution is that the case in point is not true--for example,
many miracles, ghost stories, and so on; and (2) whether it really
comes under the conception of the truth thus stated; for it may only
appear to do so, and the matter is one to be settled by precise
distinctions; and (3) whether it is really inconsistent with this
conception; for this again may be only an apparent inconsistency.


A brilliant move is the _retorsio argumenti_, or turning of the
tables, by which your opponent's argument is turned against himself.
He declares, for instance, "So-and-so is a child, you must make
allowance for him." You retort, "Just because he is a child, I must
correct him; otherwise he will persist in his bad habits."


Should your opponent surprise you by becoming particularly angry at an
argument, you must urge it with all the more zeal; not only because it
is a good thing to make him angry, but because it may be presumed that
you have here put your finger on the weak side of his case, and that
just here he is more open to attack than even for the moment you


This is chiefly practicable in a dispute between scholars in the
presence of the unlearned. If you have no argument _ad rem_, and none
either _ad hominem_, you can make one _ad auditores_; that is to say,
you can start some invalid objection, which, however, only an expert
sees to be invalid. Now your opponent is an expert, but those who form
your audience are not, and accordingly in their eyes he is defeated;
particularly if the objection which you make places him in any
ridiculous light. People are ready to laugh, and you have the laughers
on your side. To show that your objection is an idle one, would
require a long explanation on the part of your opponent, and a
reference to the principles of the branch of knowledge in question, or
to the elements of the matter which you are discussing; and people are
not disposed to listen to it.

For example, your opponent states that in the original formation of a
mountain-range the granite and other elements in its composition were,
by reason of their high temperature, in a fluid or molten state; that
the temperature must have amounted to some 480 deg. Fahrenheit; and that
when the mass took shape it was covered by the sea. You reply, by an
argument _ad auditores_, that at that temperature--nay, indeed, long
before it had been reached, namely, at 212 deg. Fahrenheit--the sea would
have been boiled away, and spread through the air in the form of
steam. At this the audience laughs. To refute the objection, your
opponent would have to show that the boiling-point depends not only on
the degree of warmth, but also on the atmospheric pressure; and that
as soon as about half the sea-water had gone off in the shape of
steam, this pressure would be so greatly increased that the rest of it
would fail to boil even at a temperature of 480 deg.. He is debarred from
giving this explanation, as it would require a treatise to demonstrate
the matter to those who had no acquaintance with physics.


[Footnote 1: See sec. xviii.]

If you find that you are being worsted, you can make a
_diversion_--that is, you can suddenly begin to talk of something
else, as though it had a bearing on the matter in dispute, and
afforded an argument against your opponent. This may be done without
presumption if the diversion has, in fact, some general bearing on the
matter; but it is a piece of impudence if it has nothing to do with
the case, and is only brought in by way of attacking your opponent.

For example, I praised the system prevailing in China, where there is
no such thing as hereditary nobility, and offices are bestowed only on
those who succeed in competitive examinations. My opponent maintained
that learning, as little as the privilege of birth (of which he had a
high opinion) fits a man for office. We argued, and he got the worst
of it. Then he made a diversion, and declared that in China all
ranks were punished with the bastinado, which he connected with the
immoderate indulgence in tea, and proceeded to make both of them a
subject of reproach to the Chinese. To follow him into all this would
have been to allow oneself to be drawn into a surrender of the victory
which had already been won.

The diversion is mere impudence if it completely abandons the point in
dispute, and raises, for instance, some such objection as "Yes, and
you also said just now," and so on. For then the argument becomes to
some extent personal; of the kind which will be treated of in the last
section. Strictly speaking, it is half-way between the _argumentum
ad personam_, which will there be discussed, and the _argumentum ad

How very innate this trick is, may be seen in every quarrel between
common people. If one of the parties makes some personal reproach
against the other, the latter, instead of answering it by refuting it,
allows it to stand,--as it were, admits it; and replies by reproaching
his antagonist on some other ground. This is a stratagem like that
pursued by Scipio when he attacked the Carthaginians, not in Italy,
but in Africa. In war, diversions of this kind may be profitable; but
in a quarrel they are poor expedients, because the reproaches remain,
and those who look on hear the worst that can be said of both parties.
It is a trick that should be used only _faute de mieux_.


This is the _argumentum ad verecundiam_. It consists in making an
appeal to authority rather than reason, and in using such an authority
as may suit the degree of knowledge possessed by your opponent.

Every man prefers belief to the exercise of judgment, says Seneca; and
it is therefore an easy matter if you have an authority on your side
which your opponent respects. The more limited his capacity and
knowledge, the greater is the number of the authorities who weigh with
him. But if his capacity and knowledge are of a high order, there
are very few; indeed, hardly any at all. He may, perhaps, admit the
authority of professional men versed in a science or an art or a
handicraft of which he knows little or nothing; but even so he will
regard it with suspicion. Contrarily, ordinary folk have a deep
respect for professional men of every kind. They are unaware that
a man who makes a profession of a thing loves it not for the thing
itself, but for the money he makes by it; or that it is rare for a man
who teaches to know his subject thoroughly; for if he studies it as he
ought, he has in most cases no time left in which to teach it.

But there are very many authorities who find respect with the mob, and
if you have none that is quite suitable, you can take one that appears
to be so; you may quote what some said in another sense or in other
circumstances. Authorities which your opponent fails to understand are
those of which he generally thinks the most. The unlearned entertain a
peculiar respect for a Greek or a Latin flourish. You may also, should
it be necessary, not only twist your authorities, but actually falsify
them, or quote something which you have invented entirely yourself. As
a rule, your opponent has no books at hand, and could not use them if
he had. The finest illustration of this is furnished by the French
_cure_, who, to avoid being compelled, like other citizens, to pave
the street in front of his house, quoted a saying which he described
as biblical: _paveant illi, ego non pavebo_. That was quite enough for
the municipal officers. A universal prejudice may also be used as an
authority; for most people think with Aristotle that that may be said
to exist which many believe. There is no opinion, however absurd,
which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to
the conviction that it is generally adopted. Example affects their
thought just as it affects their action. They are like sheep following
the bell-wether just as he leads them. They would sooner die than
think. It is very curious that the universality of an opinion should
have so much weight with people, as their own experience might tell
them that its acceptance is an entirely thoughtless and merely
imitative process. But it tells them nothing of the kind, because they
possess no self-knowledge whatever. It is only the elect Who Say with
Plato: [Greek: tois pollois polla dokei] which means that the public
has a good many bees in its bonnet, and that it would be a long
business to get at them.

But to speak seriously, the universality of an opinion is no proof,
nay, it is not even a probability, that the opinion is right. Those
who maintain that it is so must assume (1) that length of time
deprives a universal opinion of its demonstrative force, as otherwise
all the old errors which were once universally held to be true would
have to be recalled; for instance, the Ptolemaic system would have
to be restored, or Catholicism re-established in all Protestant
countries. They must assume (2) that distance of space has the same
effect; otherwise the respective universality of opinion among the
adherents of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam will put them in a

When we come to look into the matter, so-called universal opinion is
the opinion of two or three persons; and we should be persuaded of
this if we could see the way in which it really arises.

We should find that it is two or three persons who, in the first
instance, accepted it, or advanced and maintained it; and of whom
people were so good as to believe that they had thoroughly tested it.
Then a few other persons, persuaded beforehand that the first were men
of the requisite capacity, also accepted the opinion. These, again,
were trusted by many others, whose laziness suggested to them that it
was better to believe at once, than to go through the troublesome task
of testing the matter for themselves. Thus the number of these lazy
and credulous adherents grew from day to day; for the opinion had no
sooner obtained a fair measure of support than its further supporters
attributed this to the fact that the opinion could only have obtained
it by the cogency of its arguments. The remainder were then compelled
to grant what was universally granted, so as not to pass for unruly
persons who resisted opinions which every one accepted, or pert
fellows who thought themselves cleverer than any one else.

When opinion reaches this stage, adhesion becomes a duty; and
henceforward the few who are capable of forming a judgment hold their
peace. Those who venture to speak are such as are entirely incapable
of forming any opinions or any judgment of their own, being merely the
echo of others' opinions; and, nevertheless, they defend them with all
the greater zeal and intolerance. For what they hate in people who
think differently is not so much the different opinions which they
profess, as the presumption of wanting to form their own judgment; a
presumption of which they themselves are never guilty, as they are
very well aware. In short, there are very few who can think, but
every man wants to have an opinion; and what remains but to take it
ready-made from others, instead of forming opinions for himself?

Since this is what happens, where is the value of the opinion even of
a hundred millions? It is no more established than an historical
fact reported by a hundred chroniclers who can be proved to have
plagiarised it from one another; the opinion in the end being
traceable to a single individual.[1] It is all what I say, what you
say, and, finally, what he says; and the whole of it is nothing but a
series of assertions:

[Footnote 1: See Bayle's _Pensees sur les Cometes_, i., p. 10.]

_Dico ego, tu dicis, sed denique dixit et ille;
Dictaque post toties, nil nisi dicta vides_.

Nevertheless, in a dispute with ordinary people, we may employ
universal opinion as an authority. For it will generally be found that
when two of them are fighting, that is the weapon which both of them
choose as a means of attack. If a man of the better sort has to deal
with them, it is most advisable for him to condescend to the use
of this weapon too, and to select such authorities as will make an
impression on his opponent's weak side. For, _ex hypoihesi_, he is as
insensible to all rational argument as a horny-hided Siegfried, dipped
in the flood of incapacity, and unable to think or judge. Before
a tribunal the dispute is one between authorities alone,--such
authoritative statements, I mean, as are laid down by legal experts;
and here the exercise of judgment consists in discovering what law or
authority applies to the case in question. There is, however, plenty
of room for Dialectic; for should the case in question and the law not
really fit each other, they can, if necessary, be twisted until they
appear to do so, or _vice versa_.


If you know that you have no reply to the arguments which your
opponent advances, you may, by a fine stroke of irony, declare
yourself to be an incompetent judge: "What you now say passes my
poor powers of comprehension; it may be all very true, but I can't
understand it, and I refrain from any expression of opinion on it." In
this way you insinuate to the bystanders, with whom you are in good
repute, that what your opponent says is nonsense. Thus, when Kant's
_Kritik_ appeared, or, rather, when it began to make a noise in the
world, many professors of the old ecclectic school declared that they
failed to understand it, in the belief that their failure settled the
business. But when the adherents of the new school proved to them that
they were quite right, and had really failed to understand it, they
were in a very bad humour.

This is a trick which may be used only when you are quite sure that
the audience thinks much better of you that of your opponent. A
professor, for instance may try it on a student.

Strictly, it is a case of the preceding trick: it is a particularly
malicious assertion of one's own authority, instead of giving reasons.
The counter-trick is to say: "I beg your pardon; but, with your
penetrating intellect, it must be very easy for you to understand
anything; and it can only be my poor statement of the matter that is
at fault"; and then go on to rub it into him until he understands it
_nolens volens_, and sees for himself that it was really his own fault
alone. In this way you parry his attack. With the greatest politeness
he wanted to insinuate that you were talking nonsense; and you, with
equal courtesy, prove to him that he is a fool.


If you are confronted with an assertion, there is a short way of
getting rid of it, or, at any rate, of throwing suspicion on it, by
putting it into some odious category; even though the connection
is only apparent, or else of a loose character. You can say,
for instance, "That is Manichasism," or "It is Arianism," or
"Pelagianism," or "Idealism," or "Spinozism," or "Pantheism," or
"Brownianism," or "Naturalism," or "Atheism," or "Rationalism,"
"Spiritualism," "Mysticism," and so on. In making an objection of this
kind, you take it for granted (1) that the assertion in question is
identical with, or is at least contained in, the category cited--that
is to say, you cry out, "Oh, I have heard that before"; and (2) that
the system referred to has been entirely refuted, and does not contain
a word of truth.


"That's all very well in theory, but it won't do in practice." In
this sophism you admit the premisses but deny the conclusion, in
contradiction with a well-known rule of logic. The assertion is
based upon an impossibility: what is right in theory _must_ work
in practice; and if it does not, there is a mistake in the theory;
something has been overlooked and not allowed for; and, consequently,
what is wrong in practice is wrong in theory too.


When you state a question or an argument, and your opponent gives you
no direct answer or reply, but evades it by a counter-question or an
indirect answer, or some assertion which has no bearing on the matter,
and, generally, tries to turn the subject, it is a sure sign that you
have touched a weak spot, sometimes without knowing it. You have, as
it were, reduced him to silence. You must, therefore, urge the point
all the more, and not let your opponent evade it, even when you do not
know where the weakness which you have hit upon really lies.


There is another trick which, as soon as it is practicable, makes all
others unnecessary. Instead of working on your opponent's intellect by
argument, work on his will by motive; and he, and also the audience if
they have similar interests, will at once be won over to your opinion,
even though you got it out of a lunatic asylum; for, as a general
rule, half an ounce of will is more effective than a hundredweight of
insight and intelligence. This, it is true, can be done only under
peculiar circumstances. If you succeed in making your opponent feel
that his opinion, should it prove true, will be distinctly prejudicial
to his interest, he will let it drop like a hot potato, and feel that
it was very imprudent to take it up.

A clergyman, for instance, is defending some philosophical dogma; you
make him sensible of the fact that it is in immediate contradiction
with one of the fundamental doctrines of his Church, and he abandons

A landed proprietor maintains that the use of machinery in
agricultural operations, as practised in England, is an excellent
institution, since an engine does the work of many men. You give him
to understand that it will not be very long before carriages are also
worked by steam, and that the value of his large stud will be greatly
depreciated; and you will see what he will say.

In such cases every man feels how thoughtless it is to sanction a law
unjust to himself--_quam temere in nosmet legem sancimus iniquam_! Nor
is it otherwise if the bystanders, but not your opponent, belong to
the same sect, guild, industry, club, etc., as yourself. Let his
thesis be never so true, as soon as you hint that it is prejudicial to
the common interests of the said society, all the bystanders will find
that your opponent's arguments, however excellent they be, are weak
and contemptible; and that yours, on the other hand, though they were
random conjecture, are correct and to the point; you will have a
chorus of loud approval on your side, and your opponent will be driven
out of the field with ignominy. Nay, the bystanders will believe, as a
rule, that they have agreed with you out of pure conviction. For what
is not to our interest mostly seems absurd to us; our intellect being
no _siccum lumen_. This trick might be called "taking the tree by its
root"; its usual name is the _argumentum ab utili_.


You may also puzzle and bewilder your opponent by mere bombast; and
the trick is possible, because a man generally supposes that there
must be some meaning in words:

_Gewoehnlich glaubt der Mensch, wenn er nur Worte hoert,
Es muesse sich dabei doch auch was denken lassen_.

If he is secretly conscious of his own weakness, and accustomed to
hear much that he does not understand, and to make as though he did,
you can easily impose upon him by some serious fooling that sounds
very deep or learned, and deprives him of hearing, sight, and thought;
and by giving out that it is the most indisputable proof of what you
assert. It is a well-known fact that in recent times some philosophers
have practised this trick on the whole of the public with the most
brilliant success. But since present examples are odious, we may refer
to _The Vicar of Wakefield_ for an old one.


Should your opponent be in the right, but, luckily for your
contention, choose a faulty proof, you can easily manage to refute it,
and then claim that you have thus refuted his whole position. This
is a trick which ought to be one of the first; it is, at bottom, an
expedient by which an _argumentum ad hominem_ is put forward as an
_argumentum ad rem_. If no accurate proof occurs to him or to the
bystanders, you have won the day. For example, if a man advances the
ontological argument by way of proving God's existence, you can get
the best of him, for the ontological argument may easily be refuted.
This is the way in which bad advocates lose a good case, by trying to
justify it by an authority which does not fit it, when no fitting one
occurs to them.


A last trick is to become personal, insulting, rude, as soon as you
perceive that your opponent has the upper hand, and that you are going
to come off worst. It consists in passing from the subject of dispute,
as from a lost game, to the disputant himself, and in some way
attacking his person. It may be called the _argumentum ad personam_,
to distinguish it from the _argumentum ad hominem_, which passes
from the objective discussion of the subject pure and simple to the
statements or admissions which your opponent has made in regard to it.
But in becoming personal you leave the subject altogether, and turn
your attack to his person, by remarks of an offensive and spiteful
character. It is an appeal from the virtues of the intellect to the
virtues of the body, or to mere animalism. This is a very popular
trick, because every one is able to carry it into effect; and so it
is of frequent application. Now the question is, What counter-trick
avails for the other party? for if he has recourse to the same rule,
there will be blows, or a duel, or an action for slander.

It would be a great mistake to suppose that it is sufficient not to
become personal yourself. For by showing a man quite quietly that he
is wrong, and that what he says and thinks is incorrect--a process
which occurs in every dialectical victory--you embitter him more than
if you used some rude or insulting expression. Why is this? Because,
as Hobbes observes,[1] all mental pleasure consists in being able to
compare oneself with others to one's own advantage. Nothing is of
greater moment to a man than the gratification of his vanity, and no
wound is more painful than that which is inflicted on it. Hence such
phrases as "Death before dishonour," and so on. The gratification of
vanity arises mainly by comparison of oneself with others, in every
respect, but chiefly in respect of one's intellectual powers; and so
the most effective and the strongest gratification of it is to be
found in controversy. Hence the embitterment of defeat, apart from any
question of injustice; and hence recourse to that last weapon,
that last trick, which you cannot evade by mere politeness. A cool
demeanour may, however, help you here, if, as soon as your opponent
becomes personal, you quietly reply, "That has no bearing on the point
in dispute," and immediately bring the conversation back to it, and
continue to show him that he is wrong, without taking any notice of
his insults. Say, as Themistocles said to Eurybiades--_Strike, but
hear me_. But such demeanour is not given to every one.

[Footnote 1: _Elementa philosophica de Cive_.]

As a sharpening of wits, controversy is often, indeed, of mutual
advantage, in order to correct one's thoughts and awaken new views.
But in learning and in mental power both disputants must be tolerably
equal. If one of them lacks learning, he will fail to understand the
other, as he is not on the same level with his antagonist. If he lacks
mental power, he will be embittered, and led into dishonest tricks,
and end by being rude.

The only safe rule, therefore, is that which Aristotle mentions in the
last chapter of his _Topica_: not to dispute with the first person you
meet, but only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that
they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance
absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen
to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to cherish truth, to be
willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough
to bear being proved to be in the wrong, should truth lie with him.
From this it follows that scarcely one man in a hundred is worth your
disputing with him. You may let the remainder say what they please,
for every one is at liberty to be a fool--_desipere est jus gentium_.
Remember what Voltaire says: _La paix vaut encore mieux que la
verite_. Remember also an Arabian proverb which tells us that _on the
tree of silence there hangs its fruit, which is peace_.


In the productions of poetic genius, especially of the epic and
dramatic kind, there is, apart from Beauty, another quality which is
attractive: I mean Interest.

The beauty of a work of art consists in the fact that it holds up a
clear mirror to certain _ideas_ inherent in the world in general; the
beauty of a work of poetic art in particular is that it renders the
ideas inherent in mankind, and thereby leads it to a knowledge
of these ideas. The means which poetry uses for this end are
the exhibition of significant characters and the invention of
circumstances which will bring about significant situations, giving
occasion to the characters to unfold their peculiarities and show what
is in them; so that by some such representation a clearer and fuller
knowledge of the many-sided idea of humanity may be attained. Beauty,
however, in its general aspect, is the inseparable characteristic
of the idea when it has become known. In other words, everything is
beautiful in which an idea is revealed; for to be beautiful means no
more than clearly to express an idea.

Thus we perceive that beauty is always an affair of _knowledge_, and
that it appeals to _the knowing subject_, and not to _the will_;
nay, it is a fact that the apprehension of beauty on the part of the
subject involves a complete suppression of the will.

On the other hand, we call drama or descriptive poetry interesting
when it represents events and actions of a kind which necessarily
arouse concern or sympathy, like that which we feel in real events
involving our own person. The fate of the person represented in them
is felt in just the same fashion as our own: we await the development
of events with anxiety; we eagerly follow their course; our hearts
quicken when the hero is threatened; our pulse falters as the danger
reaches its acme, and throbs again when he is suddenly rescued. Until
we reach the end of the story we cannot put the book aside; we lie
away far into the night sympathising with our hero's troubles as
though they were our own. Nay, instead of finding pleasure and
recreation in such representations, we should feel all the pain which
real life often inflicts upon us, or at least the kind which pursues
us in our uneasy dreams, if in the act of reading or looking at the
stage we had not the firm ground of reality always beneath our feet.
As it is, in the stress of a too violent feeling, we can find relief
from the illusion of the moment, and then give way to it again at
will. Moreover, we can gain this relief without any such violent
transition as occurs in a dream, when we rid ourselves of its terrors
only by the act of awaking.

It is obvious that what is affected by poetry of this character is our
_will_, and not merely our intellectual powers pure and simple. The
word _interest_ means, therefore, that which arouses the concern of
the individual will, _quod nostra interest_; and here it is that
beauty is clearly distinguished from interest. The one is an affair
of the intellect, and that, too, of the purest and simplest kind. The
other works upon the will. Beauty, then, consists in an apprehension
of ideas; and knowledge of this character is beyond the range of the
principle that nothing happens without a cause. Interest, on the other
hand, has its origin nowhere but in the course of events; that is to
say, in the complexities which are possible only through the action of
this principle in its different forms.

We have now obtained a clear conception of the essential difference
between the beauty and the interest of a work of art. We have
recognised that beauty is the true end of every art, and therefore,
also, of the poetic art. It now remains to raise the question whether
the interest of a work of art is a second end, or a means to the
exhibition of its beauty; or whether the interest of it is produced by
its beauty as an essential concomitant, and comes of itself as soon as
it is beautiful; or whether interest is at any rate compatible with
the main end of art; or, finally, whether it is a hindrance to it.

In the first place, it is to be observed that the interest of a work
of art is confined to works of poetic art. It does not exist in the
case of fine art, or of music or architecture. Nay, with these forms
of art it is not even conceivable, unless, indeed, the interest be of
an entirely personal character, and confined to one or two spectators;
as, for example, where a picture is a portrait of some one whom we
love or hate; the building, my house or my prison; the music, my
wedding dance, or the tune to which I marched to the war. Interest of
this kind is clearly quite foreign to the essence and purpose of art;
it disturbs our judgment in so far as it makes the purely artistic
attitude impossible. It may be, indeed, that to a smaller extent this
is true of all interest.

Now, since the interest of a work of art lies in the fact that we
have the same kind of sympathy with a poetic representation as with
reality, it is obvious that the representation must deceive us for the
moment; and this it can do only by its truth. But truth is an element
in perfect art. A picture, a poem, should be as true as nature itself;
but at the same time it should lay stress on whatever forms the
unique character of its subject by drawing out all its essential
manifestations, and by rejecting everything that is unessential and
accidental. The picture or the poem will thus emphasize its _idea_,
and give us that _ideal truth_ which is superior to nature.

_Truth_, then, forms the point that is common both to interest and
beauty in a work of art, as it is its truth which produces the
illusion. The fact that the truth of which I speak is _ideal truth_
might, indeed, be detrimental to the illusion, since it is just here
that we have the general difference between poetry and reality, art
and nature. But since it is possible for reality to coincide with
the ideal, it is not actually necessary that this difference should
destroy the illusion. In the case of fine arts there is, in the range
of the means which art adopts, a certain limit, and beyond it illusion
is impossible. Sculpture, that is to say, gives us mere colourless
form; its figures are without eyes and without movement; and painting
provides us with no more than a single view, enclosed within strict
limits, which separate the picture from the adjacent reality. Here,
then, there is no room for illusion, and consequently none for that
interest or sympathy which resembles the interest we have in reality;
the will is at once excluded, and the object alone is presented to us
in a manner that frees it from any personal concern.

It is a highly remarkable fact that a spurious kind of fine art
oversteps these limits, produces an illusion of reality, and arouses
our interest; but at the same time it destroys the effect which fine
art produces, and serves as nothing but a mere means of exhibiting the
beautiful, that is, of communicating a knowledge of the ideas which it
embodies. I refer to _waxwork_. Here, we might say, is the dividing
line which separates it from the province of fine art. When waxwork is
properly executed, it produces a perfect illusion; but for that very
reason we approach a wax figure as we approach a real man, who, as
such, is for the moment an object presented to our will. That is
to say, he is an object of interest; he arouses the will, and
consequently stills the intellect. We come up to a wax figure with the
same reserve and caution as a real man would inspire in us: our will
is excited; it waits to see whether he is going to be friendly to us,
or the reverse, fly from us, or attack us; in a word, it expects some
action of him. But as the figure, nevertheless, shows no sign of life,
it produces the impression which is so very disagreeable, namely, of
a corpse. This is a case where the interest is of the most complete
kind, and yet where there is no work of art at all. In other words,
interest is not in itself a real end of art.

The same truth is illustrated by the fact that even in poetry it is
only the dramatic and descriptive kind to which interest attaches; for
if interest were, with beauty, the aim of art, poetry of the lyrical
kind would, for that very reason, not take half so great a position as
the other two.

In the second place, if interest were a means in the production of
beauty, every interesting work would also be beautiful. That, however,
is by no means the case. A drama or a novel may often attract us by
its interest, and yet be so utterly deficient in any kind of beauty
that we are afterwards ashamed of having wasted our time on it. This
applies to many a drama which gives no true picture of the real life
of man; which contains characters very superficially drawn, or so
distorted as to be actual monstrosities, such as are not to be found
in nature; but the course of events and the play of the action are so
intricate, and we feel so much for the hero in the situation in which
he is placed, that we are not content until we see the knot untangled
and the hero rescued. The action is so cleverly governed and guided in
its course that we remain in a state of constant curiosity as to what
is going to happen, and we are utterly unable to form a guess; so that
between eagerness and surprise our interest is kept active; and as we
are pleasantly entertained, we do not notice the lapse of time. Most
of Kotzebue's plays are of this character. For the mob this is the
right thing: it looks for amusement, something to pass the time, not
for intellectual perception. Beauty is an affair of such perception;
hence sensibility to beauty varies as much as the intellectual
faculties themselves. For the inner truth of a representation, and its
correspondence with the real nature of humanity, the mob has no sense
at all. What is flat and superficial it can grasp, but the depths of
human nature are opened to it in vain.

It is also to be observed that dramatic representations which depend
for their value on their interest lose by repetition, because they are
no longer able to arouse curiosity as to their course, since it is
already known. To see them often, makes them stale and tedious. On
the other hand, works of which the value lies in their beauty gain by
repetition, as they are then more and more understood.

Most novels are on the same footing as dramatic representations of
this character. They are creatures of the same sort of imagination as
we see in the story-teller of Venice and Naples, who lays a hat on the
ground and waits until an audience is assembled. Then he spins a tale
which so captivates his hearers that, when he gets to the catastrophe,
he makes a round of the crowd, hat in hand, for contributions, without
the least fear that his hearers will slip away. Similar story-tellers
ply their trade in this country, though in a less direct fashion. They
do it through the agency of publishers and circulating libraries. Thus
they can avoid going about in rags, like their colleagues elsewhere;
they can offer the children of their imagination to the public under
the title of novels, short stories, romantic poems, fairy tales, and
so on; and the public, in a dressing-gown by the fireside, sits down
more at its ease, but also with a greater amount of patience, to the
enjoyment of the interest which they provide.

How very little aesthetic value there generally is in productions of
this sort is well known; and yet it cannot be denied that many of them
are interesting; or else how could they be so popular?

We see, then, in reply to our second question, that interest does not
necessarily involve beauty; and, conversely, it is true that beauty
does not necessarily involve interest. Significant characters may be
represented, that open up the depths of human nature, and it may all
be expressed in actions and sufferings of an exceptional kind, so
that the real nature of humanity and the world may stand forth in
the picture in the clearest and most forcible lines; and yet no high
degree of interest may be excited in the course of events by the
continued progress of the action, or by the complexity and unexpected
solution of the plot. The immortal masterpieces of Shakespeare contain
little that excites interest; the action does not go forward in one
straight line, but falters, as in _Hamlet_, all through the play;
or else it spreads out in breadth, as in _The Merchant of Venice_,
whereas length is the proper dimension of interest; or the scenes hang
loosely together, as in _Henry IV_. Thus it is that Shakespeare's
dramas produce no appreciable effect on the mob.

The dramatic requirement stated by Aristotle, and more particularly
the unity of action, have in view the interest of the piece rather
than its artistic beauty. It may be said, generally, that these
requirements are drawn up in accordance with the principle of
sufficient reason to which I have referred above. We know, however,
that the _idea_, and, consequently, the beauty of a work of art, exist
only for the perceptive intelligence which has freed itself from
the domination of that principle. It is just here that we find the
distinction between interest and beauty; as it is obvious that
interest is part and parcel of the mental attitude which is governed
by the principle, whereas beauty is always beyond its range. The best
and most striking refutation of the Aristotelian unities is Manzoni's.
It may be found in the preface to his dramas.

What is true of Shakespeare's dramatic works is true also of Goethe's.
Even _Egmont_ makes little effect on the public, because it contains
scarcely any complication or development; and if _Egmont_ fails, what
are we to say of _Tasso_ or _Iphigenia_? That the Greek tragedians did
not look to interest as a means of working upon the public, is clear
from the fact that the material of their masterpieces was almost
always known to every one: they selected events which had often been
treated dramatically before. This shows us how sensitive was the
Greek public to the beautiful, as it did not require the interest of
unexpected events and new stories to season its enjoyment.

Neither does the quality of interest often attach to masterpieces of
descriptive poetry. Father Homer lays the world and humanity before us
in its true nature, but he takes no trouble to attract our sympathy
by a complexity of circumstance, or to surprise us by unexpected
entanglements. His pace is lingering; he stops at every scene; he puts
one picture after another tranquilly before us, elaborating it
with care. We experience no passionate emotion in reading him; our
demeanour is one of pure perceptive intelligence; he does not arouse
our will, but sings it to rest; and it costs us no effort to break off
in our reading, for we are not in condition of eager curiosity. This
is all still more true of Dante, whose work is not, in the proper
sense of the word, an epic, but a descriptive poem. The same thing may
be said of the four immortal romances: _Don Quixote, Tristram Shandy,
La Nouvelle Heloise_, and _Wilhelm Meister_. To arouse our interest
is by no means the chief aim of these works; in _Tristram Shandy_ the
hero, even at the end of the book, is only eight years of age.

On the other hand, we must not venture to assert that the quality of
interest is not to be found in masterpieces of literature. We have it
in Schiller's dramas in an appreciable degree, and consequently
they are popular; also in the _Oedipus Rex_ of Sophocles. Amongst
masterpieces of description, we find it in Ariosto's _Orlando
Furioso_; nay, an example of a high degree of interest, bound up with
the beautiful, is afforded in an excellent novel by Walter Scott--_The
Heart of Midlothian_. This is the most interesting work of fiction
that I know, where all the effects due to interest, as I have given
them generally in the preceding remarks, may be most clearly observed.
At the same time it is a very beautiful romance throughout; it shows
the most varied pictures of life, drawn with striking truth; and it
exhibits highly different characters with great justice and fidelity.

Interest, then, is certainly compatible with beauty. That was our
third question. Nevertheless, a comparatively small admixture of the
element of interest may well be found to be most advantageous as far
as beauty is concerned; for beauty is and remains the end of art.
Beauty is in twofold opposition with interest; firstly, because it
lies in the perception of the idea, and such perception takes its
object entirely out of the range of the forms enunciated by the
principle of sufficient reason; whereas interest has its sphere mainly
in circumstance, and it is out of this principle that the complexity
of circumstance arises. Secondly, interest works by exciting the will;
whereas beauty exists only for the pure perceptive intelligence, which
has no will. However, with dramatic and descriptive literature an
admixture of interest is necessary, just as a volatile and gaseous
substance requires a material basis if it is to be preserved and
transferred. The admixture is necessary, partly, indeed, because
interest is itself created by the events which have to be devised in
order to set the characters in motion; partly because our minds would
be weary of watching scene after scene if they had no concern for us,
or of passing from one significant picture to another if we were not
drawn on by some secret thread. It is this that we call interest;
it is the sympathy which the event in itself forces us to feel, and
which, by riveting our attention, makes the mind obedient to the poet,
and able to follow him into all the parts of his story.

If the interest of a work of art is sufficient to achieve this result,
it does all that can be required of it; for its only service is to
connect the pictures by which the poet desires to communicate a
knowledge of the idea, as if they were pearls, and interest were the
thread that holds them together, and makes an ornament out of the
whole. But interest is prejudicial to beauty as soon as it oversteps
this limit; and this is the case if we are so led away by the interest
of a work that whenever we come to any detailed description in a
novel, or any lengthy reflection on the part of a character in a
drama, we grow impatient and want to put spurs to our author, so that
we may follow the development of events with greater speed. Epic and
dramatic writings, where beauty and interest are both present in a
high degree, may be compared to the working of a watch, where interest
is the spring which keeps all the wheels in motion. If it worked
unhindered, the watch would run down in a few minutes. Beauty, holding
us in the spell of description and reflection, is like the barrel
which checks its movement.

Or we may say that interest is the body of a poetic work, and beauty
the soul. In the epic and the drama, interest, as a necessary quality
of the action, is the matter; and beauty, the form that requires the
matter in order to be visible.


In the moment when a great affliction overtakes us, we are hurt to
find that the world about us is unconcerned and goes its own way. As
Goethe says in _Tasso_, how easily it leaves us helpless and alone,
and continues its course like the sun and the moon and the other gods:

_... die Welt, wie sie so leicht,
Uns huelflos, einsam laesst, und ihren Weg,
Wie Sonn' und Mond und andre Goetter geht_.

Nay more! it is something intolerable that even we ourselves have
to go on with the mechanical round of our daily business, and that
thousands of our own actions are and must be unaffected by the pain
that throbs within us. And so, to restore the harmony between our
outward doings and our inward feelings, we storm and shout, and tear
our hair, and stamp with pain or rage.

Our temperament is so _despotic_ that we are not satisfied unless
we draw everything into our own life, and force all the world to
sympathise with us. The only way of achieving this would be to win the
love of others, so that the afflictions which oppress our own hearts
might oppress theirs as well. Since that is attended with some
difficulty, we often choose the shorter way, and blab out our burden
of woe to people who do not care, and listen with curiosity, but
without sympathy, and much oftener with satisfaction.

Speech and the communication of thought, which, in their mutual
relations, are always attended by a slight impulse on the part of the
will, are almost a physical necessity. Sometimes, however, the lower
animals entertain me much more than the average man. For, in the first
place, what can such a man say? It is only conceptions, that is, the
driest of ideas, that can be communicated by means of words; and what
sort of conceptions has the average man to communicate, if he does
not merely tell a story or give a report, neither of which makes
conversation? The greatest charm of conversation is the mimetic part
of it,--the character that is manifested, be it never so little. Take
the best of men; how little he can _say_ of what goes on within
him, since it is only conceptions that are communicable; and yet a
conversation with a clever man is one of the greatest of pleasures.

It is not only that ordinary men have little to say, but what
intellect they have puts them in the way of concealing and distorting
it; and it is the necessity of practising this concealment that gives
them such a pitiable character; so that what they exhibit is not even
the little that they have, but a mask and disguise. The lower animals,
which have no reason, can conceal nothing; they are altogether
_naive_, and therefore very entertaining, if we have only an eye for
the kind of communications which they make. They speak not with words,
but with shape and structure, and manner of life, and the things they
set about; they express themselves, to an intelligent observer, in a
very pleasing and entertaining fashion. It is a varied life that is
presented to him, and one that in its manifestation is very different
from his own; and yet essentially it is the same. He sees it in its
simple form, when reflection is excluded; for with the lower animals
life is lived wholly in and for the present moment: it is the present
that the animal grasps; it has no care, or at least no conscious care,
for the morrow, and no fear of death; and so it is wholly taken up
with life and living.

* * * * *

The conversation among ordinary people, when it does not relate to any
special matter of fact, but takes a more general character, mostly
consists in hackneyed commonplaces, which they alternately repeat to
each other with the utmost complacency.[1]

[Footnote 1: _Translator's Note_.--This observation is in
Schopenhauer's own English.]

* * * * *

Some men can despise any blessing as soon as they cease to possess
it; others only when they have obtained it. The latter are the more
unhappy, and the nobler, of the two.

* * * * *

When the aching heart grieves no more over any particular object,
but is oppressed by life as a whole, it withdraws, as it were, into
itself. There is here a retreat and gradual extinction of the will,
whereby the body, which is the manifestation of the will, is slowly
but surely undermined; and the individual experiences a steady
dissolution of his bonds,--a quiet presentiment of death. Hence the
heart which aches has a secret joy of its own; and it is this, I
fancy, which the English call "the joy of grief."

The pain that extends to life as a whole, and loosens our hold on
it, is the only pain that is really _tragic_. That which attaches to
particular objects is a will that is broken, but not resigned; it
exhibits the struggle and inner contradiction of the will and of life
itself; and it is comic, be it never so violent. It is like the pain
of the miser at the loss of his hoard. Even though pain of the tragic
kind proceeds from a single definite object, it does not remain there;
it takes the separate affliction only as a _symbol_ of life as a
whole, and transfers it thither.

* * * * *

_Vexation_ is the attitude of the individual as intelligence towards
the check imposed upon a strong manifestation of the individual as
will. There are two ways of avoiding it: either by repressing the
violence of the will--in other words, by virtue; or by keeping
the intelligence from dwelling upon the check--in other words, by

* * * * *

To win the favour of a very beautiful woman by one's personality alone
is perhaps a greater satisfaction to one's vanity than to anything
else; for it is an assurance that one's personality is an equivalent
for the person that is treasured and desired and defied above all
others. Hence it is that despised love is so great a pang, especially
when it is associated with well-founded jealousy.

With this joy and this pain, it is probable that vanity is more
largely concerned than the senses, because it is only the things
of the mind, and not mere sensuality, that produce such violent
convulsions. The lower animals are familiar with lust, but not with
the passionate pleasures and pains of love.

* * * * *

To be suddenly placed in a strange town or country where the manner of
life, possibly even the language, is very different from our own, is,
at the first moment, like stepping into cold water. We are brought
into sudden contact with a new temperature, and we feel a powerful and
superior influence from without which affects us uncomfortably. We
find ourselves in a strange element, where we cannot move with ease;
and, over and above that, we have the feeling that while everything
strikes us as strange, we ourselves strike others in the same way.
But as soon as we are a little composed and reconciled to our
surroundings, as soon as we have appropriated some of its temperature,
we feel an extraordinary sense of satisfaction, as in bathing in cool
water; we assimilate ourselves to the new element, and cease to have
any necessary pre-occupation with our person. We devote our attention
undisturbed to our environment, to which we now feel ourselves
superior by being able to view it in an objective and disinterested
fashion, instead of being oppressed by it, as before.

* * * * *

When we are on a journey, and all kinds of remarkable objects press
themselves on our attention, the intellectual food which we receive is
often so large in amount that we have no time for digestion; and we
regret that the impressions which succeed one another so quickly leave
no permanent trace. But at bottom it is the same with travelling as
with reading. How often do we complain that we cannot remember one
thousandth part of what we read! In both cases, however, we may
console ourselves with the reflection that the things we see and read
make an impression on the mind before they are forgotten, and so
contribute to its formation and nurture; while that which we only
remember does no more than stuff it and puff it out, filling up its
hollows with matter that will always be strange to it, and leaving it
in itself a blank.

* * * * *

It is the very many and varied forms in which human life is presented
to us on our travels that make them entertaining. But we never see
more than its outside, such as is everywhere open to public view and
accessible to strangers. On the other hand, human life on its
inside, the heart and centre, where it lives and moves and shows its
character, and in particular that part of the inner side which could
be seen at home amongst our relatives, is not seen; we have exchanged
it for the outer side. This is why on our travels we see the world
like a painted landscape, with a very wide horizon, but no foreground;
and why, in time, we get tired of it.

* * * * *

One man is more concerned with the impression which he makes upon
the rest of mankind; another, with the impression which the rest of
mankind makes upon him. The disposition of the one is subjective; of
the other, objective; the one is, in the whole of his existence, more
in the nature of an idea which is merely presented; the other, more of
the being who presents it.

* * * * *

A woman (with certain exceptions which need not be mentioned) will not
take the first step with a man; for in spite of all the beauty she may
have, she risks a refusal. A man may be ill in mind or body, or busy,
or gloomy, and so not care for advances; and a refusal would be a blow
to her vanity. But as soon as he takes the first step, and helps her
over this danger, he stands on a footing of equality with her, and
will generally find her quite tractable.

* * * * *

The praise with which many men speak of their wives is really given
to their own judgment in selecting them. This arises, perhaps, from a
feeling of the truth of the saying, that a man shows what he is by the
way in which he dies, and by the choice of his wife.

* * * * *

If education or warning were of any avail, how could Seneca's pupil be
a Nero?

* * * * *

The Pythagorean[1] principle that _like is known only by like_ is
in many respects a true one. It explains how it is that every man
understands his fellow only in so far as he resembles him, or, at
least, is of a similar character. What one man is quite sure of
perceiving in another is that which is common to all, namely, the
vulgar, petty or mean elements of our nature; here every man has a
perfect understanding of his fellows; but the advantage which one man
has over another does not exist for the other, who, be the talents in
question as extraordinary as they may, will never see anything beyond
what he possesses himself, for the very good reason that this is all
he wants to see. If there is anything on which he is in doubt, it will
give him a vague sense of fear, mixed with pique; because it passes
his comprehension, and therefore is uncongenial to him.

[Footnote 1: See Porphyry, _de Vita Pythagorae_.]

This is why it is mind alone that understands mind; why works of


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