Aristotle's “Logical Worldview”: Understanding Logic Through Philosophy

Aristotle's “Logical Worldview”: Understanding Logic Through Philosophy

Creighton Rosental
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2443-4.ch004
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The author presents the idea of a “logical worldview” – an approach to understanding logic by examining philosophical positions in metaphysics, epistemology, and theories of cognition and perception, and exploring how philosophical and logical positions combine to form a complete logical system. Aristotle's logical worldview is examined in some detail, and the logical systems of Francis Bacon and George Boole are examined by exploring how a new logic results when certain Aristotelian philosophical positions are abandoned. The logical worldview approach is also shown to help explain certain puzzles with Aristotle's logic, such as existential import, the form of the syllogism, and Aristotle's “missing” moods and figures from the list of valid moods.
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One common presentation of Aristotle’s logic in contemporary undergraduate logic classes is as a syllogistic logic. The typical approach is to identify the propositional forms recognized by Aristotle (in a subject-predicate form [“S is P”] with universal or particular quantity and affirmative or negative quality); present the square of opposition; and introduce the form of the syllogism (as having two premises, one conclusion, and three terms) and some valid moods. More in-depth, but less common, presentations of syllogistic may also provide techniques for determining invalid moods (e.g., counterexamples) and reductions to prove validity in other figures besides the first.

The syllogistic provides students with a method for generating (and perhaps identifying) valid forms of argument, but it leaves out far more of Aristotle’s work in logic than it includes. This approach includes a small portion from Aristotle’s Prior Analytics and On Interpretation but completely ignores the remainder of Organon (viz. Categories, Topics, Posterior Analytics, and Sophistical Refutations). Even within the syllogistic, the proper way in which the content of terms and propositions is to be determined is almost never presented, so students are led to conclude that any terms and propositions could be introduced into syllogisms as long as the argument form is valid; in other words, Aristotle’s syllogistic is presented as a purely formal logic about a limited set of valid inferences. Thus, for example, from Carroll (1958) we get examples of formally valid syllogisms such as:

All cats understand French;

Some chickens are cats.

Therefore, some chickens understand French. (p. 58)

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