[ExI] Aristotle on trolling
anders at aleph.se
Sun May 8 19:00:18 UTC 2016
A recent translation of Aristotle's classic "On trolling" (it is CC, so
you can read the whole thing):
Many good points, and just two pages.
> One might wonder whether there is an art of trolling and an
> excellence; and indeed some say that Socrates was a troll, and so that
> the good man also trolls. And this is in fact what the troll claims:
> that he is a gadfly and beneficial, and without him to ‘stir up’ the
> thread it would become dull and unintelligent. But this is incorrect.
> For Socrates was speaking frankly when he told the Athenians to care
> for their souls, rather than money and honors, and showed that they
> lacked knowledge. And this is not trolling but the contrary,
> exhortation and truth-telling—even if the citizens get very annoyed.
> For annoyance results from many kinds of speech; and the peculiarity
> [/idion/] of the troll is not annoyance or controversy in general, but
> confusion and strife among a community who really agree. And since the
> one who does this on every occasion must act with knowledge, and on
> the basis of practice and care, he has a kind of art—just as one might
> speak of the art of the hack or of the grifter. But it is not really
> an art, being without any function; and it belongs not to the serious
> person to be a troll but to the one who lacks education.
I am reminded of Frankfurt's classic "On bullshit":
Which is doubly relevant today given Trump's candidacy and the epistemic
approach of Putin's Russia. Know your epistemic defenses and virtues.
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
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