Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion


What is the book Thank You for Arguing about?

Heinrichs believes that our social life is completely based on arguments. They guide our emotions, define decisions, force us to buy things and affect our minds and souls. And rhetoric can be used to decipher these arguments. Rhetorical techniques are used to persuade and even manipulate people.

In ancient time, rhetoric art was considered a necessary skill for the leader. It was one of the most crucial learning subjects back then. According to Heinrichs, the first democracy in the world was created with the help of rhetoric. Rhetoric art was a source of inspiration for Caesar and Cicero, Shakespear also excelled at it. The founding fathers of America used rhetoric principles for writing the US Constitution.

Closer to the end of 19th century, rhetoric became less popular. The classical art of arguing has gone out of fashion. However, not for everyone. Many politicians and lawyers continued practicing rhetoric. They honed their art in debates and successfully used it in practice. Heinrichs points out that if someone wants to become a successful leader in the modern world, he has to adopt at least the basic principles of rhetoric.

Aristotle once said that if a leader wants to appear trustworthy, he has to show virtue, selflessness and conventional wisdom in his speeches. This statement still holds true.

The author describes some specific rhetoric techniques used to make the audience to trust the orator, believe his arguments and ultimately do what orator wants the audience to do. This subtle art is based on the well-spoken speech, well-disguised ulterior motifs and ability to impose your opinion without anyone noticing.

This book contains a bunch of practical advice on how to use rhetoric in real life. Heinrichs describes how he argues with his kids, provides a plethora of historical facts, cites many instances of using rhetoric from movies and books. To some extent, this book can serve as a comprehensive, practical manual. On the other hand, the author gives us an opportunity to look at the world in the context of argues and arguments.

Summary and 6 Ideas of Thank You For Arguing

Idea №1: Don’t argue for argument’s sake: establish your goals and pick disputes by them.

Idea №2: Try to keep any disputes as low key as possible.

Idea №3: If you want your audience to trust you, try to think like them.

Idea №4: Make the audience to listen to you with the right arguments.

Idea №5: Win your audience trust.

Idea №6: Control the mood of the audience.

Review Thank You For Arguing

Jay Heinrichs’ book is an excellent combination of the classic principles of rhetoric and the realities of our world. Those who think that rhetoric is something obsolete, useless and dead (pretty much like Latin), will be surprised to know that it can come in handy in the modern life.

Some might say that the author is encouraging readers to manipulate people. Well, Heinrichs admits it. At the same time. He points out that little tricks that can help you win debates are a lesser evil than the pointless wars where at the end of a day no one is a winner.

Pros and Cons

  • A lot of humor, exciting ideas and practical advice on how to use rhetoric in daily life.

Author Jay Heinrichs

author of the book Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of PersuasionJay Heinrichs is the author of the best-selling New York Times, thanks for the argument: that Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson can teach us about the art of persuasion. The book was published in 12 languages and three editions. Leading contemporary work on rhetoric, she is among the top ten best books in Harvard. Jay was appointed a professor of rhetoric and oratory practice at Middlebury College. Content and editorial consultant specializing in compelling participation, Jay serves customers from NASA to Southwest Airlines to Wharton’s school of business.

Jay lives with his wife Dorothy Behlen Henryx, chief gift officer for the Dartmouth Medical School and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. They live on 150 acres at the base of Mount Cardigan in New Hampshire.

Watch his thoughts about the book Thank You For Arguing at BBC


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