If you are unaware of Stefan Molyneux then I would make the argument you have been missing out. He is a popular philosopher who broadcasts an online show dealing with topics from parenting to I.Q. The vast amount of content he has produced is enough to keep someone new to him binge watching/listening for weeks, possibly months. My own personal theory is that Mr. Molyneux actually talks twice as fast as a normal human, and then slows his videos down to half speed. Its the only way he can produce 27 hours of content every day. That, or Molyneux is actually a set of triplets. Only time will tell.
I have been meaning to read his new (well it was new at the time) book The Art of the Argument for well over a year. With the recent digital book burning in the news I thought I best jump on the opportunity while it is still available. To be fair to my readers you must know that I listened to the audio book on 1.25 speed while cleaning my home. I did not take notes, but will tell you about my experience with the book under those conditions.
For starters Molyneux does an amazing job reading his work. This is no surprise to those who have followed him in the past. Stefan has an absolutely amazing speaking voice and an accent to go along with it. Authors read their own works really adds life to a book. They produce the proper inflection and emotion. Authors read their own work the way they want it to be read. Stef’s skilled speaking ability only adds to this plus. He probably could get a job reading audio books for other people, or at least one of his triplets could.
The content of the book was informative and entertaining. While I was expecting information about how to debate like a boss, I was educated on what is and is not an argument. This information is surprisingly laking in our modern world. Like most Molyneux content the pages where packed with witty metaphors, on point humor, and just enough edgy topic matter to bother the overly emotional.
The first half of the book seems to be about socratic reasoning, and thats totally awesome. One learns that an argument cannot be a self detonating statement such as “the cat is a dog.”. That would not be an argument, because its fucking stupid. Also, a cat is a cat, not a dog. A thing is itself, and cannot be something else at the same time. While other mistakes of thought are brought up, and some just as simple, they are important. Noting what an argument is helps us identify what is “NOT AN ARGUMENT”, and in my opinion that may be even more important.
The second half of the book deals with sophists and their wicked black magic of counterfeiting true arguments. Intended or not, Stef left the picture of an evil dark wizard casting spells upon the populous. Nasty sophists blinding people and then sucking their money from them like vampires. Basically sophists are CNN anchors. They do not use reason, but emotion to convince people. They do not let dissenters go their way but slander them. They project on to philosophers what they themselves are doing and then dance around like parasitic crabs in celebration. Its true.
The end of the book is an argument, that the argument is actually life itself. That to think and reason is the only way to survive as humans and thinking and reasoning with others is the argument. I don’t know if I agree with the definition that is laid out in the conclusion of the book, but I do agree with the importance put upon societies ability to talk and discus and disagree openly without the threat of violence. Again, I listened to this book on 1.25 speed while doing chores around my home, so it is more then possible I skipped over important content or even mis represented this book. That however was not my intent. I felt it was important for me to write about while it is still fresh in my mind, because it is a powerful book that I intend to listen to again.
I highly recommend the book. The performance was a 10/10. The arguments put forth are not all new if you already follow Stef, but very important and truly worth your time. I still feel that Stef’s best work is Universally Preferable Behavior: A Rational Proof of Secular Ethics, but its been years and I could be wrong.
Please find the time to read or listen to this wonderful book if you haven’t already. You will not regret it. You will be provided with new things to ponder over. You will love it.