Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


Popular Content

Showing most liked content on 03/13/18 in all areas

  1. 1 point

    Peikoff's Dissertation

    . PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject – Kant II I mentioned that Kant’s own logic lecture notes compiled by Jäsche were always available to German readers from 1800. We have seen that Kant therein, in his Introduction to the discipline of logic, made an analogy between logic and grammar. (I see now that Capozzi and Roncaglia have also drawn attention to this analogy in the third chapter, p. 143, of The Development of Modern Logic [2009, L. Haaparanta, editor].) Logic is the form of thought, with contents of thought its matter; as grammar is the form of language, with particular words its matter. A book of Kant’s in 1798 includes his view on the relation between thought and language. That book is Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, which was always available in German, but did not come into English translations (two) until the decade after Peikoff’s dissertation. From the Anthropology in a third translation, the Cambridge translation (2007) by Robert Louden: “All language is a signification of thought and, on the other hand, the best way of signifying thought is through language, the greatest instrument for understanding ourselves and others. Thinking is speaking with oneself . . . consequently it is also listening to oneself inwardly (by means of the reproductive power of the imagination). . . . Those who can speak and hear do not always understand themselves or others, and it is due to the lack of the faculty of signification, or its faculty use (when signs are taken for things, and vice versa), that, especially in matters of reason, human beings who are united in language are as distant as heaven from earth in concepts.” (300) Peikoff in crafting his dissertation did not have, in English, this Kant passage on the close relationship of language to thought. We’ve seen he also did not have available that paragraph missing (typesetting?) from the Abbott translation of the Jäsche Logic. That is the paragraph in which Kant maintained that the universal and a priori rules of thought, that is, the rules of logic, could only be found in observation of their natural use in particular cases of reasoning. Peikoff had available in English Kant’s analogy between how logic is discovered and how grammar is discovered. This analogy is mentioned, as we have seen, in the Abbott translation of the Jäsche Logic Peikoff used. As we have seen, the parallel of grammar-logic discovery is set in further parallel, in Kant’s Prolegomena, to how fundamental categories of the understanding (necessary factors in making percepts [“appearances”] in experience into that experience) are discovered. Peikoff elected not to address these passages indicating Kant’s notion of the reflective act by which one could (mainly Aristotle, who did) originally discover the rules of logic together with their character of absolute necessity and normativity. Peikoff rightly observes that Kant cannot draw forth logical, universally necessary principles from the mind as flat empirical generalizations of the mind’s operations. Locke’s idea we’ve put off the table, the idea that among our sensory perceptions of physical necessities there are straight perceptions of instances of PNC in the world. Also off would be any indirect discernment of PNC (i) in the constitution of the world or (ii) in the constitution of the mind by the method of empirical generalization. We must conform to rules of elementary logic in all right thinking, including in right empirical generalization of mental operations. Kant quite agreed, and Peikoff addresses (180–81) Kant’s conviction on this point. (Not that Kant denigrates the senses in the way of Plato or the Rationalists, but in each area of his philosophy, it is plain since I first began to study him fifty years ago that Kant sings the imperial purple of the a priori, whether synthetic or analytic, in comparison to empirical generalization.) The corresponding point for the logical ontologist is stated by Aristotle (in the course of arguing a different issue): “It is a wrong assumption to suppose universally that we have an adequate first principle in virtue of the fact that something always is so or always happens so” (Phy. 252a2–3). Aristotle’s account of coming to know PNC by an intuitive induction, not by empirical generalization, was quite opaque, not very illuminating. Kant is facing the same problem in resting PNC simply in the constitution of the mind and then trying to explain how we come to know the principle is an absolutely necessary one. And a normative one. Peikoff notices subsequent Kantians’ return nevertheless to empirical psychology for grounding PNC in the constitution of mind. Peikoff exhibits such a move in Henry Mansel’s Prolegomena Logica (1860). Concerning this work, I’ll mention that Prof. Mansel should report to the Bureau of Transcendental Licensing and turn in his card. C. S. Peirce 1864, which I mentioned at the end of the thread “Peikoff Dissertation Prep,” was mistaken in its assessment that in the Prolegomena Logica “the Kantian conception of logic is developed in the most consistent and beautiful manner.” Mansel’s philosophy surrounding logic is in a manner mildly more realist than Kant and by that it is more pleasing to Peirce. It is indebted to Kant, but it leaves behind Kant’s concept of the noumenal self, Kant’s notion of form (distinct from Aristotle’s), and Kant’s formal and transcendental idealism. Mansel’s idealism, which he represents as under the sway of Kant’s, is as much or more under the sway of Berkeley’s. Mansel is more Humean than Kantian concerning the character of physical laws, such as Kant had exhibited in Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (1785). Mansel read Kant in German, including the entirety of Jäsche‘s Logic, and in German he read also successors of Kant concerning the character of logic, such as Wilhelm Krug and Jakob Fries. In footnote after footnote, Mansel specifies his deviations from Kant on the nature of logic. Mansel 1860 misses or declines taking up Kant’s lead to the absolute necessity-but-normativity of logical rules by parallel with the contingent necessity-but-normativity of grammar (65–67, 79–81, 92–97, 135–45, 151–63, 172–80, 192–96, 201–4, 208–9, 225–26, 246–48, 263–69, 278–80, 286–94, 356–59). A logical ontologist at least has no great problem explaining how one can fail to conform to PNC. The absolute necessity of this rule for thinking comes from the total absence of contradictions in reality together with the mind’s ability to fail in its effort to always keep out contradictions within and among all its pictures of reality. To be entirely true so far as one has gotten a comprehension of reality, when contradictions are found in one’s comprehension, the comprehension must be revised. Kant has trouble explaining how the rules of logic take their absolute necessity from law of the mind’s operation, yet the rules are guides for right thinking, rules that the mind can violate. Peikoff 1964 points out (183–86) that Kant notes this difficulty in his lectures as shown in Jäsche’s Logic. How does Kant try to solve this problem? (To be continued.)
  2. 1 point

    Peikoff's Dissertation

    . PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject – Kant I We have seen the weaknesses of the classical accounts of how PNC is grounded in the nature of objects apart from their subjects. Platonic and Aristotelian accounts of form and essence fell off the center stage of philosophy in the modern era. With them fell the accounts of the necessity and normativity of the principle of noncontradiction (PNC) utilizing them. Moreover, those accounts, and the more nominalistic account of Locke too, were inadequate to the task anyway. Peikoff 1964 maintains that Kant’s views on logic were a main highway to the subsequent modern view that logic, including PNC, takes its correctness and necessity most basically from the side of the human subject, not from objects existing apart from the subject. A right-hand glove will not fit my left hand unless I turn the glove inside out. That is a fact about physical objects, including my natural and artificial instruments. My learning, retaining, and stating the fact entails facility in tacitly using set-membership relations. The fact is not dependent on those set-membership relations or on the abstraction process. With much more abstraction from the physical, one can learn that the glove-hand fact is a manifestation of spaces we call oriented spaces. Again, I cannot simultaneously be turning a right glove into a left and not doing that. Beyond the facility with sets and abstraction in stating that fact is comprehending that the fact and its statement instantiates PNC. Any account of the ontology and coming-to-knowledge of PNC that slights either the side of the object (facts) or the side of the conscious subject is bound to be inadequate, I should say. Kant definitely slighted the side of the object. But consider the following statement attributed to Kant: “Only artificial or scientific logic [not natural or popular logic] deserves this name [logic], then, as a science of the necessary and universal rules of thought, which can and must be cognized a priori, independently of the natural use of the understanding and of reason in concreto, although these rules can first be found only through observation of that natural use.” This statement is in the Introduction of what we know as the Jäsche Logic. It was issued, in German, in 1800. Kant died in 1804. It was not written by Kant nor reviewed and approved by him. He had approved, however, this project of creating a manual for lecturers in logic based on his notes used for his own lectures, aiming presumably for what was being used from the notes by Kant in his lectures late in his career. That means lectures for logic consonant with Kant’s mature, Critical philosophy, which had been inaugurated in the Critique of Pure Reason in 1781. Kant’s approval of the creation of a manual from his own lecture notes had been awarded to one of Kant’s students Gottlob Benjamin Jäsche. The entire manual has been translated into English and included in the volume Kant’s Lectures on Logic (in the Cambridge series translating all of Kant’s works) in 1992 by J. Michael Young. The Introduction of this manual had been translated into English in 1885 by Thomas Kingsmill Abbott. This is the source, the only source, Peikoff 1964 quotes as Kant’s own words, in translation, on the subject of logic. Peikoff gives the impression that, and I expect he thought that, this is Kant’s own writing. The parts he and we are concerned with likely are close to what was stated by Kant in his lectures. At least I find no contradiction with the rather detailed student notes known to us as the Vienna Logic, which are thought to be from the early 1780’s. Today we have the advantage of all the superb translations of Kant’s works and of students’ Kant lecture notes into English through the Cambridge project (and translation of Critique of Pure Reason and Critique of Judgment by Werner Pluhar as well). Until recent decades, student lecture notes had no role in the understanding of Kant and no part in the influence of Kant, whether in German or English, since those notes were simply not generally available. The Jäsche Logic was put about in German* under the title (here translated) Immanuel Kant’s Logic – A Manual for Lectures. Across the nineteenth century and to the present, that has been available to German readers. It includes the passage I quoted from it. Abbott’s translation omits that passage. The Kant view available to German readers “. . . although these rules can first be found only through observation of that natural use” is concealed by Abbott to the English reader, such as Peikoff at mid-twentieth century. The important sentence I quoted that is missing from Abbott should have appeared at the bottom of his page 7. (It appears at the bottom of page 12 in the German original.) Prior to that point, Abbott was giving a meticulous rendition of the introductory part of the work known in German as Immanuel Kant’s Logic – A Manual for Lectures. Where Abbott has the term knowledge or its variants, Young has cognition and its variants. Where Abbott has ideas, Young has representations. Where Abbott has semblance, Young has illusion (in characterizing the target of the dialectical logic, which is complementary to our concern here which is known in Kant and others as analytic logic). Those three differences are minor for our pursuit of what is Jäsche’s representation of Kant’s views on logic. The concurrence on substance in the two translations is considerable. Peikoff quotes this much from page 2 of Abbott’s translation concerning Kant’s views on how we discover laws of logic: “{We} set aside all knowledge that we can only borrow from objects, and reflect simply on the exercise of the understanding in general, [and] then we discover those rules which are absolutely necessary, and independently of any particular objects of thought, because without them we cannot think at all. These rules, accordingly, can be discerned a priori, that is, independently of all experience, because they contain merely the conditions of the use of the understanding in general, whether pure or empirical, without distinction of its objects. . . . The science, therefore, which contains these universal and necessary laws is simply a science of the form of thought.” (Cf. KrV A52–55 B76–79) (Curly braces are from me, square from Peikoff.) There is a sentence at Peikoff’s elision points, and there is one more sentence in this paragraph after the final sentence he quotes here. Starting at the elision, we read as follows: “Hence, also, it follows that the universal and necessary laws of thought can only be concerned with its form, not in anywise with its matter. The science, therefore, which contains these universal and necessary laws is simply a science of the form of thought. And we can form a conception of the possibility of such a science, just as a universal grammar which contains nothing beyond the mere form of language, without words, which belong to the matter of language.” That last sentence gives us some idea of what Kant means by saying that reflection on the exercise of the understanding enables us to discern absolutely necessary rules of our thought such as the constraint against contradictions. This reflection, then, is Kant’s replacement for Aristotle’s ‘intuitive induction’. Before school age, we follow elementary grammar in speaking our native language. We conform to that language’s grammar a good deal, and it has become habitual. We learn expressly what grammatical forms we are following and should be following from grammar school (after we have learned to write). Some earlier humans had to have reflected on the language, such as Latin or German, to have discovered its grammar. Kant’s analogy on the use, express statement, and normativity of grammar with the use, express statement, and normativity of logic that Jäsche and Abbott here publicize is corroborated as standard in Kant’s lectures on logic by student notes, the Bloomberg (early 1770’s), the Dohna-Wundlacken (1792), and the Vienna. The D-W notes indicate that because logic must contain a priori principles, “logic is a science and grammar is not, because its rules are contingent” (page 432 in Young 1992). I should mention that in Kant’s various remarks on logic, talk of the necessary v. the contingent is shorthand for (what is earlier stated as) the absolutely necessary v. the contingently necessary. Kant penned an incomplete monograph (published after his death in 1804) What Real Progress Has Metaphysics Made in Germany Since the Time of Leibniz and Wolff? Therein Kant writes: “As grammar is the resolution of a speech-form into it’s elementary rules, and logic a resolution of the form of thought, so ontology is a resolution of knowledge into the concepts that lie a priori in the understanding, and have their use in experience . . . .” (page 354 of Henry Allison translation in Cambridge’s Kant Theoretical Philosophy after 1781). In Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics that Will Be Able to Come Forward as Science (1783), Kant writes of how he discerned those fundamental a priori concepts of the understanding that are used in human intelligibility in experience: “To pick from ordinary cognition the concepts that are not based on any particular experience and yet are present in all cognition from experience (for which they constitute as it were the mere form of connection) required no greater reflection or more insight than to cull from a language rules for the actual use of words in general, and so to compile the elements for a grammar (and in fact both investigations are very closely related to one another) without, for all that, being able to give a reason why any given language should have precisely this and no other formal constitution, and still less why precisely so many, neither more nor fewer, of such formal determinations of the language can be found at all.” (ibid. 115, translator Gary Hatfield) To be continued.