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[Robert Greene] Is there a nugget of common kindness to his diabolical facade?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/25/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 864 times Debate No: 65778
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If you've read the reviews to Robert Greene's works, you will hear him being described as 'cunning', 'amoral', 'manipulative'. There is alot of controversy to his work, and if you read his work, you'd understand why; his diction is, albeit articulate and informed, cunning and scheming. His advice reads as dirty, rough, aggressive, and sometimes even psychopathic; it is littered with tales of conquests, taking advantage of others, losing attention and all credibility for a moment of human error.

However, I would like to postulate that despite the appearance, public image, and the diction and choice of phrases and examples give it an aggressive, diabolical exterior, alot of the advice is morally and ethically sound.

In 'Art of Seduction', one of the chapters are, 'Use the Demonic Power of Words to Sow Confusion'. The title speaks for itself, and this is one piece of advice that Greene follows very well, if you've read his works. However, at it's roots, this is nothing more than 'Choose your words wisely'. Whether or not you agree with his choice of words and mentality throughout his works, you can't deny that this is THE book for business and social settings that are set apart from the typical self-help book. The role this books is to give you the extra boost of power and assertion that you may need to actually follow the advice.

In fact, much of his works can be rationalized. In 48 Laws of Power, alot of the advice is just level-headed. You don't outshine the master because your role to them is learning from them, and it makes sense, since he's a part of your professional evolution and gets to witness, and accredit, your progress over the period of your employment with them. You don't always rely on your friends to give you feedback because your companionship is a higher priority between you than insight on your performance; meanwhile, the enemy who is tracking you notices your weaknesses and takes advantage of them; you find out what those are and work on them. When asking for help, you want to return the favor as you're asking for it; you don't want to waste their time and end up taking advantage of their good side and have nothing to show for it for them. You'll lose it.

Most of the ideas in the book, if you read past the words and look at the conceptual picture alone, are ways to take care of yourself and maintain others' interests and good sides. The words are radical; the ideas behind them are, if you think about it, a combination of intelligence and common sense.

Even as far as character description is concerned, in the Art of Seduction, Robert Greene describes the 9 characters who will be successful at seduction, including the Anti-Seducer, and the names and descriptions appear almost to be dolls, caricatures. Some portrayals are unsettling, such as the Natural (employing the characteristics of a child) and the Rake (employing the characteristics of mental abuse, and even allusions to rape).

However, if we break up the gender roles, and assign them to a dominant-submissive dichotomy (which is the analogue here for men-women, as written by Robert Greene), and strip down people and media portrayal to analyze the roles at their very role--actions and attitudes-- then we have things that are fairly benign.

The Siren would be the well-groomed, stylish and elegant good listener. The Rake would be the impulsive, active and passionate doer. The Ideal Lover would be the flexible person who may or may not share your interests, but enjoys them with you in order for you to feel validated. The Dandy would be the one who interprets social roles in their own unique way to inspire you to the same with yours, The Natural is an honest, plainspoken, adventurous person with no pretenses. The Coquette is the one who has to successfully balance their boundaries and time and yours; sometimes they're available, and sometimes they're not, and you'll deal with that. The Charmer talks you up and supports you, making sure others see your potential and benefit you for your own good-and theirs. The Charismatic is the secure, confident one who knows themselves, what their path is, and carries themselves like they own it; the life radiates from inside them and permeates your speech, straightens your posture, and sharpens your vision for others to see. The Star is the break from the harshness and mundanity of life in their own way, and they do more than just shine; they reorient you to give you a sense of direction, their presence in constant no matter where you go, and no matter what happens, they are constantly them, and they are constantly this way for you. The anti-seducer is the one, however, who is the opposite of those; brash talker, slob, cruel, self-absorbed...everything that no one wants to interact with, let alone become.

Robert Greene is an excellent marketer of big, diabolical words, and advice on interactions that make sense. Yes, there are psychopaths and sociopaths who are pleased to take it word for word and be every bit as manipulative and immoral as the book appears to be, but then there should also be people who really read his works, think about it and see it for what it is; common advice.


I would like to thank my opponent for hosting this debate.
"2a. of a sympathetic or helpful nature"


Diabolical[2]:"of, relating to, or characteristic of the devil"


Facade[3]: "2. a false, superficial, or artificial appearance or effect"


I as Con will argue that common kindness is not seen in any of Greene's works. Instead I will show that what appears to be "kindness" is nothing short of shrewd Machiavellian opportunism used in pursuit of one's goals. Mr. Greene is not interested in kindness or being diabolical as my opponent is trying illustrate. Nor is he concerned about any of the morality surrounding his works. Mr. Greene is not an abstract writer but a practical writer interested in results, not intentions. I will use all three of Robert Greene's top works to make the case that Greene is amoral and withdrawn from moral concepts like "kindness" and "diabolical." Therefore, I will make the case morality is not a contention that Greene cares about at all. I will use the 33 Strategies of War, 48 Laws of Power, and the Art of Seduction to make the case.

I will present one argument in this round from the 48 Laws of Power.I will bring other arguments forth once my opponent replies.

1)The Illusion of Kindness
I will simply bring forth two of Greene's chapters from the 48 Laws of Power to show what appears to kindness is only a pursuit of one's goals. "Law 1: Never outshine the master" is one facade of kindness. Greene urges people to never outshine their superiors until they equal to or superior to them. In "Law 14: Pose as a friend, work as a spy", we see that greene encourages another facade wear someone acts as a friend when they are really spying. Therefore, it is not genuine kindness, this is merely means to an end.Greene is using a facade, but diabolical? Diabolical is an adjective to be applied relative to each perspective. My opponent may see it as being diabolical when I see that morality is absent from Greene's proposals in Law 14.

In closing this round, I leave three quotes by Greene himself that he himself implies his works are amoral and could care less about the morality or immorality of his works. As I said Greene is a practical writer concerned about results, not an abstract writer concerned about theories.

As Greene stated about his work, the 48 Laws of Power: "These laws … people might say, ‘Oh they’re wicked’, but they’re practiced day in and day out by businesspeople. You’re always trying to get rid of your competition and it can be pretty bloodthirsty, and that’s just the reality.[4]"


Again, Greene was told CNN about the 48 Laws of Power: "We want to believe we're descended from angels when we're descended from primates...This is part of our nature and there's nothing to be ashamed of.[5]"


As Greene quoted Cardinal de Retz on his Twitter last week on November 18: "Weak people never give way when they ought to. —Cardinal de Retz.[6]" Morality is the least of Greene's concerns because he does not care about intentions but results as I have stated emphatically throughout this argment.

Debate Round No. 1


Kwhynot forfeited this round.


Extend all arguments.
Debate Round No. 2


I will address the arguments as read in the book.

Law 1: Never Outshine the Master is practical business practice; if you're in a position to learn from them and prove yourself in the community, you want to be able to have the master attest to, more importantly than your genius, your work ethic and integration in a work environment. Now, more than genius or prodigial ability, the way to reach your audience and become successful is to prove yourself as an upstanding member of a team and capable of working within the provided framework provided by your boss, team or company. Isaac Newton himself makes reference to this tactic by stating, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants"; this is meant to signify that he has built his work upon the foundations of those who came before him. It is his genius that propelled his fame, but it was his collaboration and learning experience that gave him further credibility by association.

Law 14: Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy is simply a means of market research; he instructs that the emphasis should be on FRIENDLY CHATTER, NOT VALUABLE INFORMATION. This is to bring down their guard, and create a platform for friendly discussion and connectivity, which is the postulate of social networking. This creates the business's understanding of their market better, and being able to make products or provide services that they are in greater need of, or can better relate to, than if you had never communicated with them at all.

As for his interview with CNN, he references evolution from primates, but we must remember that evolution is not evil. It is a means of survival and adaptation in the environment, which is always a priority. Gaining an understanding of our identity and facing the reality of the environment we're in may seem harsh at times, but it is far more beneficial than holding ourselves to the 'angels'; high standards that we were never a part of, nor can we ever meet.

It is from hard practicality that we understand the concept of common kindness; you act upon the rules of the harsh reality to perform meaningful acts of common kindness and love, by addressing the problems that need addressing the most. You can't heal a broken leg with a band-aid.


I would like to thank my opponent for replying.

Law 1: Never Outshine the Master
My opponent is inserting her own conjecture here and not reading Robert Greene. Nothing my opponent said about Law 1 related to what Robert Greene was talking about. I will simply quote the beginning of the chapter/law to be explicitly clear.

"First, you can inadvertently outshine a master simply by being yourself. There are masters who are more insecure than others, monstrously insecure; you may naturally outshine them by your charm and grace[1]"

[1]"48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene

Robert Greene is clearly stating one should never do anything to spectatacular that would make him look superior master. it has absolutely nothing to do with "by standing on the shoulders of giants." The master may attempt to punish someone who outshines him. It is best to never look like they are superior to their masters due to their master's potential insercurities.

Law 14: Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy
Again, my opponent is inserting her own narrative regardless of what Robert Greene wrote. My opponent said "he instructs that the emphasis should be on FRIENDLY CHATTER, NOT VALUABLE INFORMATION." Clearly my opponent didn't read the 48 Laws of Power or doesn't understand it. Robert Greene explicitly said work as a spy to gain "valuabe information." Finding someone's weaknesses and intentions is valuable information. Rober Greene does not mention anything about friendly chatter either. My opponent is making up a narrative to suit their arguments here because clearly Greene tells the reader to obtain valuable information.

"Knowing about your rival is critical. Use spies to gather valuable information that will keep you a step ahead. Better still: Play the spy yourself. In polite social encounters, learn to probe. Ask indirect questions to get people to reveal their weaknesses and intentions. There is no occasion that is not an opportunity for artful spying.[2]"


Interview with CNN
My opponent just offered conjecture here that had nothing to do with Greene's opinions. Therefore, I see no need to reply since it is my opponent's opinions, not Robert Greene's opinions.

PRO:"It is from hard practicality that we understand the concept of common kindness"
In most of Greene's works, he is arguing for the preservation and success of oneself. This is very clear to most of his readers.
Debate Round No. 3


Kwhynot forfeited this round.


Extend all arguments.
Debate Round No. 4


Kwhynot forfeited this round.


Extend all arguments.

#1. My opponent forfeited three out of five rounds of this debate.
#2. I submitted arguments for all five rounds of debate.
#3. My opponent did not cite anyone.
#4. I cited sources at least 8 times.
#5. My opponent didn't quote any of Robert Greene's works.
#6. I quoted one of Robert Greene's works.
#7. My opponent never quoted Robert Greene
#8. I quoted Robert Greene from his own Twitter, when he was on the Bryan Callen show, and when he was interviewed by CNN.
#9.My opponent's arguments are based on their own narrative of Robert Greene's works.
#10.I didn't present any interpretation of Robert Greene.
#11. I allowed Robert Greene's works and quotes to speak for their own merits without me attempting to force my own views over it as my opponent has done.

My opponent has failed to put forward a substantial argument or even a in-deph rebuttal it would seem. Vote Con or don't vote at all!

Sound off, with some good music.All hail the emperor!

Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture