Monday, April 16, 2018

Caramuel on the Juridical Syllogism

This is from Juan Caramuel de Lobkowitz's Moralis seu politica logica. Caramuel (1606-1682) is the most innovative of that very innovative group that get lumped together as Baroque Scholastics -- that is, the dissolution stage of scholastic philosophy in which it began to lose cohesion in trying to accommodate the explosively diversifying problems created by the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, and early modern political shifts. It could not keep up, largely for lack of resources and a sufficiently flexible infrastructure, and thus gradually fell apart, but it was not for lack of effort or brilliance in trying. Caramuel himself is said to have averaged something like six books a year over his entire career, and practically every single one is highly creative. Baroque Scholasticism has barely been studied, because the difficulty of studying it is very high -- all the Baroque scholastics are doing completely new things with both new and old tools, and interacting with a vast number of intellectual currents, and thus you have to figure out, often from near-scratch, what they are trying to do, every single time. But there has been more work done on them recently, and Caramuel in particular has drawn attention.

The translation is very, very rough (and as I just caught two obvious mistakes while writing this introduction, I would not be surprised if there are others). The Latin is here; like all Baroque Latin it is sometimes easy, sometimes only deceptively easy, and sometimes considerably less than lucid, especially due to the use of technical terms in sometimes idiosyncratic ways. The hardest terms to translate are syncategorematic terms (in this context, the signs of logical quantity): Cuncte omnes, Ferè omnes, Plures, Media Pars, Pautiores, Multi, Pauci, Rare Fere Nulli, Nulli. These are all quasi-technical terms for which English has only approximations. Fortunately they are an orderly spectrum. I didn't even bother to try to translate the Latin mnemonic, which is supposed to be along the lines of Barbara Celarent. I confess I find it a little odd that he went through the trouble of composing it, given that he himself notes that they are only a select few.

I skipped some brief parts in the middle that are concerned more specifically with jurisprudence.


The Juridical or Moral Syllogism is that, which lawyers and judges in tribunals use. Surely to complete the case and all discussion, the Advocate needs the syllogism; the Judge needs it for completion, because considering the laws as fundamental rules, and things to be proved, he proffers an opinion, that is, gives a conclusion, as laws and proofs seem to suggest. And we are able to produce many modes of Political Syllogism, but for ease and clarity we will show only nine, which fall short of the total.

Raucus dum Classem RAPIDI CAMILLI,
NOBILIS armat.

All are in First Figure and have a Singular Minor and Consequent, but a Major whose quantity is determined by the first syllable. Consider the following table.

SignSyncategorematic TermName of SyllogismMode of Conclusion
CAAbsolutely allCamilliStrictly certain
FAAlmost allFallitisMorally certain
PLMostPlacidiMost likely
PAQuite a fewParidisDefinitely some probability
MUA numberMugivitHardly probable
RAAlmost noneRapidiReckless
NONone at allNobilisObviously wrong

It has four columns. The first shows the characters of art that serve to make the syllogism. The second displays the syncategoremata corresponding to them. In the third one reads the name of the syllogisms, in which the first syllable signifies the major, the second the minor, and the third the conclusion. In the fourth the individuals modes of dialectic efficacy are shown.

These moods of syllogisms of which one has never heard in the Peripatetic school, are such that in every Tribunal they are not merely useful, not merely beneficial, but utterly necessary....

...[T]he whole civil or criminal cause is enclosed in the Juridical Syllogism. For the Law concerns the major. The Civil Laws point to the minor, which gives the Fact and gives the Proceedings; and the Opinion is the conclusion. So we may say:

Everyone who has wounded a man, with the intent to kill, may be condemned to death as a murderer.
But Ambrose has wounded John with the intent to kill.
Therefore Ambrose is condemned to death as a murderer.

The major is expressed in the law....

...The minor is proved in the proceedings. But this has two parts, first the effect and then the intention. The first part can be fully proved by witnesses. But the second part, yes, and sometimes even the first, lacks eyewitnesses and must be argued by juridical syllogism from circumstances and signs. And so, if the fact itself is proven, one argues as follows.

RA] Rarely does one boast of a capital crime if one has not committed it.
PI] But Ambrose has boasted before so-and-so of having himself gravely wounded John.
DI] Therefore it is reckless to believe that he did not perpetrate this crime.

Whether the major is true is to be examined:for if it is established by prudent judgment and the minor is fully proved, one cannot deny the consequence. And coming to the intention, one may formulate the syllogism thus.

Most of those who gravely wound a man have the intent to kill.
But Ambrose gravely wounded John.
Therefore it is most likely that he wounded him with the intent to kill.

Here also one examines the Major: whether it is clear with prudent judgement that one should change the syncategorematic term from All to Most, and continue by moral evidence to the Most Likely conclusion; which itself also hangs on the proof of the Minor, how far the circumstances excuse, if the graveness of the wound is said to have happened by accident. All of which requires prudent judgment and logically accurate cognition.

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