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History of Philosophy Book Club Message Board › Question concerning logic

Question concerning logic

A former member
Post #: 94

I have been wondering about the nature of logic. When the Aristotle pursued his codification of logic, it is thought that it is based on the conception that reality is composed of things. In other words, it appeals to the 'particle' aspect of existence. That things exist out in nature on their own and we can describe and understand their structure through adhering to rules. For example, Aristotle tells us that a thing cannot 'be' and 'not be' at the same time.

Logic practically speaking is therefore often a way of 'mathematicizing' the world. A practical method of mathematicizing intangible things, processes, and occurrences in our lives. My question is whether logic as conceived by Aristotle can really capture the complete aspect of existence which by nature seems to be more 'fluid'?

For instance, in criminal law, there is a focus on 'reasonable doubt' in deciding guilt. This concept is very ... fluid. My question is whether it is possible that the structure of our system of understanding the world, our grammar and logic, act as hinderances to improved conceptions of how to deal with these things?

It is possibly troubling to some to think that the rigor and faith that people place in law may not be as stable as beleived. That all of the fallacies that we have studied are not very meaningful to bettering the human condition. Could it be possible that our logic, the coordinate system of the mind, is an artifact of how we evolved, which certainly does not mean it is best way to deal with certain types of 'fluid' concepts?

N. S.
John W
user 9218729
Laurel, MD
Post #: 33
I have recently engaged in a long-delayed entrance into the world of Alfred North Whitehead and find it ironic that you should raise this question. Whitehead replaces the notion of the Aristotlean substance with that of process. It is an adaptation of Plato's idea of "becoming". Instead of a "thing" or substance Whitehead says that "actual entities" (or actual occasions) are the "real concrescence of many potentials" and the "being" of an actual entity "is constituted by its 'becoming' ". It is perhaps unfortunate that Whitehead introduces so much technical jargon, but it reduces to the observation that a "thing" is not a substance but a process. It seems to me that his process may be synonymous with your "fluid". Moreover, Whitehead (along with Russell) attempted to logicize thinking through the notion that all truth could be derived logically from a set of axioms. He eventually disembarked from that path when he determined (again, along with Russell) that at some point explanation reaches a point at which the 'given' (or 'brute fact') can no longer be accounted for. (Godel later presented this as the notion that any system may be internally consistent but eventually reaches a point at which its confirmation relies on something outside the system.) Finally, with respect to your citing "our grammar and logic", there is an article entitled "Whitehead and Aristotle on Propositions" (http://www.religion-o...­) in which Whitehead's notion of a proposition is contrasted with Aristotle's. Briefly, as I understand it (and that is admittedly still a work in progress), Aristotle's approach entails that a propositon be either true or false since any predicate must either belong or not belong to the subject. Whitehead takes the position that "no entity can be conceived in complete abstraction from the system of the universe" (Process and Reality, p.3). Hence, a propositon does not describe something as true or false, but what "givens" have been included and which have been excluded in the 'prehension' or coming together of the elements that constitute a particular actual entity at this particular time and location. For Whitehead a given is that which is separated from all the actual entities by some "decision" of the creative process in the receiving actual entity. Yes, I know, a lot of jargon here, but notice that there is some parallel of Whitehead's actual entity with Plato's Forms and Leibniz's monads (and I'm not so sure that the term "meme" can be avoided here). At any rate my purpose here was to alert you that your "fluid concepts" might be synonymous with Whitehead's notion of process and that we should disabuse ourselves of the Aristotlean notion of substance. Just how this could effect our approach to logic is still a "work in progress" for me.
A former member
Post #: 95
Hello John:

Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

Nicholas Scott
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