Winning Arguments – Book Review

My reading notes on a book by Stanley Fish, entitled ‘Winning Arguments”, What works and doesn’t work in politics, the bedroom, the courtroom, and the classroom. 

Main points from my reading notes

Argument is quite a significant part of life.

Argument, not agreement, is humanity’s natural path.

We can’t escape it no matter how hard we try, therefore, we might as well learn to master it.

Words, as we know, have immense power. They can maim, hurt, and tear people and nations apart.

People naturally will argue, but without resolution, since “old arguments never die; they just get recycled.”

Resisting arguing takes monumental and often impossible effort.

Since we must argue, becoming better skilled in argument and rhetoric is a logical move.

Argument determines facts not the other way around, especially in politics. As we can see, those who can present their arguments better would be seen as factual. Therefore, fact-checking a politician should be a mainstream event.

Four Categories of Arguments

Arguments come in four categories with varying limits and boundaries:

Those with no rules: We were can say anything

  • Political arguments
  • Domestic arguments

Those which have written rules and boundaries

  • Legal arguments

Those which have unwritten rules but might have firm boundaries

  • Academic arguments

Skilled debaters, writers, orators and artists, for instance usually move arguments beyond the boundaries meant to contain them. And  “Argumentation” exists everywhere and in everything: words, gestures, body language, images, clothes, furniture, and more.

Further details are to be discussed in future posts.


Author: Muhamad Aarif

A notorious book addict by night and an oil and gas executive by day. As Mark Twain said, "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." So, read, read, and read some more.

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