Drinking and not sinning

Qui bibit, dormit; qui dormit, non peccat; qui non peccat, sanctus est; ergo: qui bibit sanctus est

or

He who drinks, sleeps; he who sleeps, does not sin; he who does not sin, is holy; therefore he who drinks is holy.

This one’s going around FB in a nice mock-illuminated manuscript; it’s also going around in a slightly varying form in English with an attribution to Martin Luther, which Wikiquote disputes.

I hate to burst anyone’s bubbleOK, bursting bubbles is kind of the purpose of this blog. Anyhow, this particular Latin aphorism really has been around for centuries; I found it on Google Books in a 1658 book from the British Museum,  Ἑρμηνεια logica, which appears to be a work on logic.

The quotation (in slight variation) shows up in the midst of the discussion of a sorites, a.k.a. a polysyllogismwhich is “a sequence of syllogisms such that the conclusion of each syllogism, together with the next proposition, is a premise for the next.” Formally speaking, this quotation is an example of a sorites, but, to quote the book linked above:

Si vero termini in sorite sunt causae subordinatae per accidens, sorites non valet; ut ia hoc, Qui bene bibit, bene dormit; qui bene dormit, non peccat; qui non peccat, est beatus; ergo: qui bene bibit est beatus. Vitium est, quod bene bibere sit causa per accidens somni.

If your Latin’s a little rusty: “If, however, the conclusions in the sorite are subordinate by accident, the sorites is not valid; as in this one, He who sleeps well, drinks well; he who sleeps well, does not sin; he who does not sin, is blessed; therefore, he who drinks well is blessed. The problem is that to drink well is a cause of sleep only by accident.”

By all means, have your fun with the quotation–really, I’m not a grouch–but don’t think it’s medieval sage advice. It’s a medieval example of bad logic.

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