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# What Is Logic?

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I was recently discussing the nature of logic with a long-time correspondent. The key question was: What is logic? In discussing possible answers, other problems arose about how to define any concept.

The approach I would like to take in this thread is to begin with the specific question -- What is logic? -- and deal with other, more general issues of how to form definitions as they arise.

What is logic?

Following are the basic steps I would go through in defining this concept in the context of my knowledge and purposes. Consider them to be a target for criticism (by which I mean pointing out errors and offering superior alternatives).

STEP1: Being a perpetual student of history, rather than a philosopher, and knowing that I live in a division of labor society with the benefits that offers, I would initially turn to my favorite philosopher to see what definition -- what essentialized meaning -- she gives for the idea named by that term. In short form, her definition is "the art of noncontradictory identification." (Ayn Rand Lexicon, p. 262) The genus is art; the differentia is a certain kind of process of identification.

STEP 2: After thinking about it (which includes a lot of steps, such as listing example referents and looking for their common and differentiating characteristics), I would expand her statement of definition for my needs: Logic is the art and science of noncontradictory identification of facts of reality.

I might elaborate by observing that logic is not a particular method, but rather a collection of tools which any thinker can use optionally in any process of thought and in any order. Example tools are (1) a knowledge of fallacies (such as the fallacy of the stolen concept) and (2) knowledge of the need to test new ideas by trying to integrate them into prior knowledge (context).

STEP 3: Because I live in society -- for the benefits of trading with others -- I know I must be prepared to communicate with other individuals who either (1) use the same words I do but as names for different ideas, or (2) use different words to name the same ideas.

For example, I know that I will encounter individuals who will (1) deny logic has any serious value ("It's just a game like chess."), (2) deny that logic need have anything to do with reality ("It deals with thoughts -- true or not."), or (3) ascribe a different meaning (referents) to the term, particularly a much narrower meaning, such as, "Logic is the study of syllogisms, valid and invalid." So, here, in my last basic step in thinking about a definition (and more broadly, the full meaning) of the idea of logic, I would try to think ahead to what kind of problems I would encounter in communicating my meaning to others. As a result I might restate my definition. The length and content of a particular statement of definition depends on what use I expect to make of it.

What errors have I made in this example procedure, given my purposes?

What steps would you have taken instead of or in addition to these three?

If the example of "logic" doesn't interest you, try "selfishness" or "theocracy."

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In the definition, "the art of non-contradictory identification", either "art" could be the genus and "of non-contradictory identification" the differentia, or "art of identification" the genus and "non-contradictory" the differentia. It depends what the context is, what else you specifically want to differentiate it from. With Kantians, one takes the former; with Hegelians, the latter.

The only possible kind of identification there is, is "of the facts of reality". Unless one does not mind redundancies, there is no need to include it in the definition of "logic"; it is already in the definition of "identification".

By "the art of ...", I believe Ayn Rand meant "the skill of...". Logic is not a science, but the means by which science is undertaken. It is a skill or a skill set, a means. (Logic is certainly not "a selective recreation of reality according to the artist's metaphysical value-judgments".)

Fallacies are the various means by which one can attempt to persuade by some means other than logic. There are infinitely many of them, but some are generally known, recognized, and often used. They are all essentially the same thing: the facade of identification covering an evasion, even a lie. Fallacies are not a part of logic; studying them is critical only as a means to identifying one's errors.

Contextuality and integration are indeed critical components of logic.

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Logic is not a science, but the means by which science is undertaken.

What do you mean by "science" here?

Is a professional logician one whose work consists of applying skills only -- or of developing new ones as well?

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Logic an be either the *object* of study, in which case I would call it a science, or a *means* of studying, in which case I would call it an art/skill.

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What Andrew said.

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I begin with the idea that there is one truth. And then I consider that the most expansive truth is in the form of a philosophy. And a philosophy is made of theories. And theories are made of principles. And Principles are made of propositions. And propostions are made of concepts. Without an understand of objective concept formation it will be hard to advance to abstract logic. Logic is the relationship between all these relationships. The peg is the concept.

Americo.

P.S. But I've never studied logic.

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At the risk of sounding like a subjectivist (which I'm not) I'd like to offer another explanation of what Ayn Rand *might* have meant by placing the concept "logic" into the genus of "art."

For an honest individual, it *feels* good to make a non-contradictory identification.

I have a one year old and she is now in the process of pointing at objects in the house (she's beginning to form ostensive definitions), she looks at me and when I say the word (the concept) of the object she's pointing to, she smiles, sometimes even gigles with joy--making non-contradictory identifications is fun.

What I'm getting at here is that there is something within man's volitional consciousness that brings him *pleasure* when he makes non-contradictory identifications.

The purpose of art is pleasure, and, for an honest individual, making non-contradictory identifications is pleasurable.

Now consider the opposite case: you identify a contradiction that you've made in the past or in someone else that you care about (someone whom you value), or a stranger you meet for the first time--you experience a negative emotion.

Please consider your emotional response when you first read Toohey's speech (The Fountainhead) to Keating where he destroys Keating, telling him that he intends to "rule", exposing his (Toohey's) horrible evil. Here, Toohey removes the mask of the *caring* altruist, and you finally see the contradiction--the caring mask of the altruist is simply a cover--what lurks beneath is the lust to rule, by brute force if necessary.

An honest individual would probably have this same negative emotional response upon seeing a pile of trash in a modern art museum (so-called modern art) and, if he has enough philosophical sophistication, would be able to identify the *contradiction*--this pile of rubbel hailed as modern art is, in fact, the attempted destruction of art.

In short, logic is in the genus of "art" because of man's positive emotional response at identifying non-contradictions and his negative emotional response at identifying contradictions.

The pre-condition here is that the individual is honest.

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Burgess, you really should sign up to HBL, for Harry Binswanger wrote a very good post on logic as art rather than science a year or so ago. I believe you can request old posts if you ask nicely... I got some old ones sent to me because I asked.

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One does not identify facts of reality as an end in itself.

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One does not identify facts of reality as an end in itself.

True. But this means that logic is always used *contextually*.

What do I here mean by contextually?

I mean the context of one's life, of one's moral purpose.

In the example I gave of my one-year-old, her subconscious purpose (at the present time) is the grasp of concepts.

For a man it is his consciously chosen purpose.

Note that If I use "non-contradictory identification" within the genus of "art" as my differentia for logic, then I have *differentiated* the concept *logic* from the type of art that one sees in a museum, or the sculpture that is standing on a table in my hallway. The end of this type of art is pleasure.

The final end of logic is the achievement of one's moral purpose, and the achievement of one's moral purpose leads to happiness.

But this doesn't mean that the genus of logic isn't "art", in the sense I've outlined in my previous post. And it also doesn't mean that (although sometimes arduous), the use of logic in achieving one's moral purpose shouldn't be pleasurable.

This is what it means to achieve happiness.

In other words, what differentiates the type of art one sees in musuems from logic (both being in the same genus), is that the purpose (or end) of musuem-type-art is pleasure. The final purpose (or end) of logic is the achievement of one's moral purpose (here on earth), and it is the achievement of one's moral purpose that leads to happiness.

Put another way, the purpose (or end) of museum-type-art is pleasure. The purpose of "the art of logic" is the achievement of happiness (in the sense I've described above).

Please remember, a man's life *is* an end in itself with his final purpose (or end) being the achievement of his own happiness, here on earth.

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I once asked Ayn Rand why she used the word "art" in the definition of logic and she said she was using the word to mean a skill based on specialized knowledge. It is a meaning closer to what an artisan does than what an artist does.

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I once asked Ayn Rand why she used the word "art" in the definition of logic and she said she was using the word to mean a skill based on specialized knowledge.Â  It is a meaning closer to what an artisan does than what an artist does.

This is interesting. Was Ayn Rand drawing a distinction between an artisan and artist? If so, what type of distinction do you think she was drawing?

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This is interesting.Â  Was Ayn Rand drawing a distinction between an artisan and artist?Â  If so, what type of distinction do you think she was drawing?

She was distinguishing "art" to mean a practiced skill versus "art" to mean a "selective recreation of reality ... etc."

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She was distinguishing "art" to mean a practiced skill versus "art" to mean a "selective recreation of reality ... etc."

Logic is an "art" in the same sense that steel-making is an art.

In this sense, an "art" is a set of techniques, that is, particular practices. That is why I think of logic as a collection of "tools" -- techniques -- which can be used to help make sure thinking is objective.

The English word "technique" (which is actually French) comes from the Greek word technikos, an adjective meaning skillful and workmanlike. technikos developed from techne, which means art, skill, or craft and was applied to many artisans --including ship builders and even soothsayers.

Like the art of novel-writing, the art of logic involves techniques for producing something. The fundamental difference, however, is that the "something" for an artisan is a particular product in reality. The fine artist produces a new "reality," one recreated from the elements of his reality, but based on his own values. This metaphysical creation is more evident in novels and film than it is in sculpture, for example, but nevertheless it applies to all "fine art."

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Burgess writes:

"The fundamental difference, however, is that the "something" for an artisan is a particular product in reality. The fine artist produces a new "reality," one recreated from the elements of his reality, but based on his own values."

While I agree with most of the substance of Burgess' post, I do take issue here with the idea that the artist recreates reality "from the elements of HIS reality, but based on his own values." (caps mine)

What I mean here is that there is only *one* reality, and ostensively it is *this* reality--objective reality. The artist recreates reality based on his values (metaphysical value judgements) from objective reality.

I also prefer, as a definition of logic, the following:

"Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification with reality." I think it important to retain "with reality."

I'd also like to broaden the context here. A man's life is, in essence, *his* creation (aside from [natural]accidents and the arbitrary use of coercion and force that he may be subjected to). In this very broad, moral context, a man uses logic as an act of creation, to give his life purpose and achievement.

In this broad moral context, man is an artisan who uses logic to give his life meaning and purpose.

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In this broad moral context, man is an artisan who uses logic to give his life meaning and purpose.

I like that imagery. Therefore I like the idea of refering to it as the "craft" of logic.

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I like that imagery.Â  Therefore I like the idea of refering to it as the "craft" of logic.

Yes, but doesn't the concept "art" subsume the concept "craft"?

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No, art and craft are synonyms.

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No, art and craft are synonyms.

Logic is the ART of non-contradictory IDENTIFICATION with reality.

Logic is the CRAFT of non-contradictory identification with REALITY.

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From Aristotle's Organon[treatises on logic] (Categories, section I):

"When things have only a name in common and the definition of being which corresponds to the name is different, they are called *homonymous.* Thus, for example, both a man and a picture are animals. These have only a name in common and the definition of being which corresponds to the name is different; for if one is to say what being an animal is for each of them, one will give two distinct definitions.

When things have the name in common and the definition of being which corresponds to the name is the same, they are called *synonymous*. Thus, for example, both a man and an ox are animals. Each of these is called, by a common name, an animal, and the definition of being is also the same; for if one is to give the definition of each--what being an animal is for each of them--one will give the same definition."

"When things get their name from something, with a difference of ending, they are called *paronymous*. Thus, for example, the grammarian gets his name from grammar, the brave get theirs from bravery." (1)

Aristotle's meaning of the terms *homonymous* seems to correspond to our present understanding (although at present I can't think of an example of a homonym).

Aristotle's meaning of the term *synonymous* appears to differ significantly from our present understanding. For Aristotle, it seems, *synonymous* means a genus, for he says, "both man and an ox are animals."

At present, I have no comment on what Aristotle means by *paronymous.*

Given Aristotle's definition of *synonymous*, I'm reluctant to concede that Art does not subsume Craft.

(1)_The Complete Works of Aristotle_ed. by Jonathan Barnes_vol. I._p. 3_

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Post deleted by myself (Richard Parker).

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Depending on context, the relative import of non-contradictory and identification may vary; but identification is by definition identification of reality (note the of; with makes no sense): of reality is redundant.

According to Aristotle (as per the selection you quote), either a synonyms is a genus, or two things are synonymous if the differences between them are insignificant to the context. Two words are paronyms if they are etymologically related: grammar, grammarian, grammatical.

Art does not subsume craft, nor vice versa. The two words are synonyms; the referents are the same, but the emphasis on which aspects of the unit are more important may differ between them.

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Burgess writes:

"The fundamental difference, however, is that the "something" for an artisan is a particular product in reality. The fine artist produces a new "reality," one recreated from the elements of his reality, but based on his own values."

While I agree with most of the substance of Burgess' post, I do take issue here with the idea that the artist recreates reality "from the elements of HIS reality, but based on his own values." (caps mine(RichardParker's))

What I mean here is that there is only *one* reality, and ostensively it is *this* reality--objective reality.Â Â  The artist recreates reality based on his values (metaphysical value judgements) from objective reality.

...

There is only one reality, but man is not omnicient--he can only ever know some of that reality. HIS (the artist's) reality is the portion of reality that the artist knows. If he is to communicate through art, it has to come from the particular portion of reality that he knows.

Of all that there is to know, what he chooses to focus on filters this down to 'his reality'. Of all that there is to communicate from this, it is his selective recreation of reality guided by his values that filters his mind's content into art.

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"Depending on context, the relative import of non-contradictory and identification may vary; but identification is by definition identification of reality".

Logic is the ART of NON-CONTRADICTORY identification of reality?

Logic is the CRAFT of non-contradictory IDENTIFICATION of reality?

The reason why I'm reluctant to drop "of reality" is that logic seems to be the bridge between man's consciousness (epistemology) and reality (metaphysics).

"According to Aristotle (as per the selection you quote), either a synonyms is a genus, or two things are synonymous if the differences between them are insignificant to the context. "

This I understand, but I'm puzzled why Miss Rand used the term "Art" and not "Craft." It seems that "Art" *might* mean a broader context, i.e., a genus whereas "craft" is a narrower context (a species within a genus).

"Two words are paronyms if they are etymologically related: grammar, grammarian, grammatical."

Thanks.

"Art does not subsume craft, nor vice versa. The two words are synonyms; the referents are the same, but the emphasis on which aspects of the unit are more important may differ between them."

More comments on the rest of the Categories to follow.

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There is only one reality, but man is not omnicient--he can only ever know some of that reality.Â  HIS (the artist's) reality is the portion of reality that the artist knows.Â  If he is to communicate through art, it has to come from the particular portion of reality that he knows.Â

Exactly. My phrase "his reality" refers to (1) the "world" in which the artist lives (which is a subset of the one, but everchanging reality), and (2) a contrast to the other "reality" -- the one the fine artist creates -- that I mentioned in the paragraph.

"His world" would have been a better phrase than "his reality," but the meaning was clear in context. In an interview -- I vaguely recall it being with Phil Donahue -- Ayn Rand (near the end of her life), said, in effect (if not her exact words): My world is coming to an end.

The haters of Ayn Rand whom I knew at the time said this "proves" Ayn Rand didn't believe that existence exists and there is only one reality.

In context, her meaning was clear. "My world" means the sum of all the parts of existence that I have come to know. It means nothing more.

Words have no intrinsic meaning. They label ideas which (if objective) refer to elements of reality selected in a certain context suitable for a particular individual at a particular time. Fortunately, reasonable people often agree on the referents. But where they don't, simple discussion ("What do you mean by X?" and "I mean A, B, and C.") resolves the confusion over words and variously defined ideas.

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