[ExI] Aristotle on trolling

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Sun May 8 19:08:25 UTC 2016


I am reminded of Frankfurt's classic "On bullshit":

I am not sure what this is - perhaps the author's summer?.  I have the
book, available from Amazon, and it's 67 pages.

bill w

On Sun, May 8, 2016 at 2:00 PM, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote:

> A recent translation of Aristotle's classic "On trolling" (it is CC, so
> you can read the whole thing):
> http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=10293503&fileId=S2053447716000099
> Many good points, and just two pages.
> An excerpt:
> 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":
> http://www.stoa.org.uk/topics/bullshit/pdf/on-bullshit.pdf
> Which is doubly relevant today given Trump's candidacy and the epistemic
> approach of Putin's Russia. Know your epistemic defenses and virtues.
> --
> Anders Sandberg
> Future of Humanity Institute
> Oxford Martin School
> Oxford University
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