Thomas’s treatise on trolling

Chapter II of Thomas’s De Falliciis*

There are four species of disputation: doctrinal, dialectical, exploratory (tentativa) and sophistical, which also goes by the name litigiosa.

Disputationis autem quatuor sunt species: scilicet doctrinalis, dialectica, tentativa et sophistica, quae etiam alio nomine dicitur litigiosa.

I could guess at litigiosa but I had never seen the term before, but litigiosa was the whole point of the treatise Thomas was writing. Here is Lewis and Short:

lītĭgĭōsus , a, um, adj. litigium,
I. full of disputes, quarrelsome.
I. Lit.: “fora,” Ov. F. 4, 188: “disputatio,” Cic. Fin. 5, 26, 76.—
B. Fond of disputes, contentious, litigious: “homo minime litigiosus,” Cic. Verr. 2, 2, 14, § 37: “duae anus, quibus nihil litigiosius,” Sid. Ep. 8, 3: “homines pertinacissimi et litigiosissimi,” Aug. Ep. 68.

So… Sophistry is trolling. 

The citation of Augustine is supposedly this, but it’s hard to see in the translation who the “extraordinarily stubborn and trolling men” are.

*The test is listed at Corpus Thomisticum as doubtful, but its authenticity is shown by Busa. See also footnote 16 in Klima’s The Semantic Principles Underlying Saint Thomas Aquinas’s Metaphysics of Being. On my own reading there is strong but not incontrovertible intrinsic evidence for authenticity.



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