The 48 Laws Of Power is a controversial book by Robert Greene that seeks to explain and categorize power. We have a full detailed summary here.
Many have criticized the book, calling it evil, immoral, and wrong. We’ve broken down each criticism on the internet into four categories.
The Anecdotal Criticism
The 1st and primary critique is that the book is based heavily on anecdotes, interpretation, isolated examples, and not based on science. This means some of the points and conclusions made could be very inaccurate.
The critique was put forth by a professor who studies power at Stanford University named Jeffrey Pfeffer. This is the most logically legitimate critique. We at the Encyclopedia Of Power have undertaken to fix this issue by making posts and videos that cover the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience behind the laws of power. Here are a few examples of what we have done to resolve this criticism. We call these posts and videos “The Science Behind The Laws.”
- Science behind the first law of power, video and post.
- Science behind the second law of power, video and post.
- Science behind the third law of power, video and post.
The Contradictions Criticism
2nd, the book is said to contradict itself. According to a principle of epistemology named coherence, truths must not contradict each other. For example, I cannot say the sun is both in the sky and not in the sky. If two truths contradict, either one is actually false, or you must consider rejecting the principle of bi-valance.
However, this critique isn’t quite right either as it relies on a straw man of Greene’s work. Green wasn’t putting forth a full system but a list of tools that may or may not apply in a specific situation. Law 48 states “Accept the fact that nothing is certain and no law is fixed.”
The Immorality Criticism
3rd, the book is said to break various moral rules like the golden rule. However, this critique also misses the point. Greene set out to describe how people wield power, not whether the actions themselves were moral, right, or nice.
The Harmful Laws Criticism
4th, some people argue that the laws can be harmful. These individuals believe that a reasonable and fair interpretation of Greene’s laws can actually lead to losing power.
For example they argue that the first law, never outshine the master, will actually leave you a “housebroken dog.” This critique however, relies on a straw man of the law. Greene never said that you should “keep obeying” the first part of the law at the expense of the other parts. We wonder if the people who believe things like this actually understand the book.
He actually spends a whole paragraph describing how the law might be reversed. In other words, he says there are circumstances where you want to attack a weak boss and take his position. The pattern just described for this critique of the first law follows through the remaining laws. It is amateur at best.
A reasonable interpretation of Greene’s laws can only lead you to the belief that the laws are effective in certain situations and not in others.
Have you come across someone using the 48 Laws Of Power immorally? Read this article to learn how to respond or counter the 48 Laws Of Power.