De syllogismo falsigrapho: The Colonial Reception of Deceptive Arguments (From 13th to 18th Centuries)


  • José Higuera Universidade do Porto


In the Dominican Archive San Luis Beltran (Bogotá) there is a manuscript of an unknown cursus philosophicus signed by the Franciscan master Pedro Ceballos y Tena, dated in 1741, Quito. The last section of this cursus is entitled Articulus utilis de syllogismo falsigrapho. For the first time, we can reconstruct the long transition of the vocabulary and the conception of deceptive arguments called falsigraphi. Pseudo-Scotus showed the fallacies behind this sort of defective argumentation, despite the geometrical origin of this expression. In the Aristotelian texts, falsigraphus was a philosophical character who wrongly “drew” the geometrical principles in order to induce a demonstration about a specific problem (e.g. circle quadrature). However, Pseudo-Scotus preferred to highlight the opposition between the demonstrative syllogisms - and their immediate principles - and the sophistic arguments configured by linguistic ambiguities or fallacies. These types of fallacies appear in the Cursus philosophicus dictatus Limae (1701) under the name of syllogismum pse[u]dographum. The question is how the later readers of Pseudo-Scotus assumed the linguistic perspective on deceptive arguments focused on categorical mistakes, while neglecting the geometrical character of those arguments that involved the use of a “graphical reasoning”. The contrast between pse[u]dographum and falsigraphus will show how the linguistic perspective on deceptive arguments was embraced by the later Scholastic. This linguistic emphasis achieves an interesting point, however, in Ceballos y Tena, who recovers the Pseudo-Scotus’ view of the term falsigraphus to note the ambiguity of logical terms. The hypothesis of this work is the historical oscillation of deceptive arguments between the linguistic perspective and the graphical reasoning involved in geometrical demonstrations.

Keywords: Falsigraphus, Demonstration, Squaring the Circle, Syllogistic, Colonial late scholasticism.
Authors: Aristotle, Robert Grosseteste, Nicolas of Cusa, Pseudo-Scotus, Pedro Ceballos y Tena, Jose de Aguilar.