Nugatoriness (Part 2)

This post follows up on one from a few weeks ago, where I started investigating the word nugatoria in the context of medieval logic. What I discovered (thanks google!) when writing that post is that the Ars Emmerana has an entire (albeit small) section on locutio nugatoria! That text is the focus of this post.

The anonymous Ars Emmerana (AE) is edited in de Rijk, Logica Modernorum vol. II, part 2. Concerning its date, de Rijk says both that the text “seems to have come into existence about the same time as the Ars Burana (third quarter of the twelfth century)” (LM II, 1, p. 400) and that “the Ars Emmerana…is older than the Ars Burana” (p. 403). Iwakuma suggests that the author of the AE was a Parvipontanus (Iwakuma, p. 332), and also suggests that the final portion of the text de Rijk edits is not part of the AE. We mention this here, because it is precisely that final page that we are interested in, whether the section De Nugatoriis properly belongs with the AE or not.


Every locution is worthless in which from the same parts of the oration there is a useless repetition of words, as in: ‘Socrates is a white man man.’

Similarly, every locution is worthless in which two predications are combined in which by the signification of one the signification of the other is understood, as in, ‘A man and an animal are Socrates and a man are.’

Similarly, every locution is worthless in which the same speech is combined to itself only by an interposed copulative conjunction, as in ‘A man and a man are’, unless the speech were a numeric or pronominal demonstrative.

[It is objected: ‘Men are, therefore a man and a man are’. An instance: ‘Now spirits live; therefore now a spirit lives’.]

But because ‘two’ is a numeric noun, for this reason this locution is admissable (competens): ‘Two and two are four’. Similarly, [because] ‘that’ [is] a demonstrative pronoun; for this reason, this locution is admissable: ‘That [thing] and that [thing] are white’.

Similarly, every locution is worthless in which from the same part of the locution two speeches are put forth the significations of which are always the same, as in ‘A human who can laugh reads’.

Similarly, whenever two speeches are brought together from the same part of the oration the significations of which are never the same, that locution is worthless, as in ‘A donkey who can laugh runs’ and ‘A braying man walks’.

Similarly, whenever this speech ‘which’ (qui) is put between such speeches the significations of which are either always the same or never the same, the locution is worthless, as in: ‘A man which is braying’, ‘A donkey which is able to laugh’.

Similarly, a locution is worthless whenever either the whole of a part or the part of a whole are enumerated [together], as in, ‘France and Paris’, and ‘Paris and France’.

Similarly, a locution is worthless on account of an inept demonstration, as when I say “That man runs”, indicating an ass, or vice versa.

[And it must be known that ‘to speak nonsense’ and ‘to advance a worthless locution’ are not the same, because it is possible that something is not nonsense but nevertheless corresponds to a locution put forwards as worthless. For when someone says, indicating an ass, ‘That man reads’, he speaks nonsense, yet nevertheless he does not put forward a worthless locution, because only that speech is worthless which never can be put forward except worthlessly.]


I have used “locution” for locutio, “oration” for oratio, and “speech” for dictio. I recognize that this is not the most immediately fluent of translations, but it helps reinforce the spoken nature of the material under discussion — it is repetitive speech, not repetitive words, that is nugatoria.

In reference to our previous post on this topic, it is interesting to note that nugatoria here has absolutely nothing to do with truth or falsity, per se.


  • Anonymous, Ars Emmerana, in Logica Modernorum, vol. II, part 2, edited by L.M. de Rijk, Van Gorcum & Comp., 1967: 143-174.
  • de Rijk, L.M., Logica Modernorum, vol. II, part 1, Van Gorcum & Comp., 1967.
  • Iwakuma, Yukio, “Influence”, in Cambridge Companion to Abelard, edited by Jeffrey E. Brower and Kevin Guilfoy, Cambride University Press, 2004, 305-335.
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