Monday, December 17, 2012

Epistemology and Logic (Part Three): On the Derivation of Propadeutic Logic

Logic is at once self-reflexive art and it is propadeutic to science. It is self-reflexive art because the direction which this art gives is meta-direction --that is, logic is the art of the direction of that which directs all arts (including logic). If meta-direction accounts for the manner in which logic relates to all possible art, then its relation to all possible science is accounted for by its being a propadeutic. It is a propadeutic because it is reason's knowledge of itself, but only at the level of an art and not yet a science, since, for Aristotle, the causes of reason lie outside of reasoning, in the matter (τὸ ὄν)  being reasoned about.
        This double orientation of logic gives it, as an art, a twofold uniqueness. Because logic is meta-directively oriented toward art, the formulation of its rules happens in the same medium as does the appropriation of that unarticulated domain (from out of which  those rules are derived), namely rational speech, λόγος. No other art can be acquired from out of the same domain as its rules can be expressed. On other hand, because of its orientation to science, namely, as a propadeutic, logic is the only art that is supposed to expressly offer its rules as a part of its art; it passes on a set of criteria by which the sciences can secure the correctness of their inquiry. But this security that logic as a propadeutic is supposed to offer, raises questions about the security required by logic itself. The rules for the metadirection of logic must themselves be derived correctly. But how is this to be accomplished? It would seem prima facie that one would need an infinite set of rule books for the derivation of rules. And of course this, as a reductio ad infinitum, reduces to the logically absurd. And yet for all these meddlesome considerations, logic gets underway and establishes itself through the truth of its practice. We could ask, in good Kantian fashion: granted that logic actually establishes itself, how is this achievement possible? Not only can we ask this question; we must ask it, if, that is, logic is properly characterized as a propadeutic to scientific endeavor. What causes the apparent problem of logical derivation? In coming to a reductio ad infinitum we might consider that our own rule-oriented approach has been misguided from the outset, as it were. It may even be that this misguidance is not to be understood only as an error, but also as a clue --a pitfall that may yet harbor the possbility of truth on the matter its seems to deviate from. But however the case, everything depends on this (and here we echo Hegel's words from part one of these posts): that we recognize the impossibility and even undesirability of establishing yet another meta-direction to avoid initial misdirection.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Epistemology, Logic, and their self-limitations (Part Two)

       Logic is not for Aristotle, as it is for the Stoics, a science, an ἐπιστήμη λογική. In fact, the very word for the discipline of logic, λογική, does not appear once in the entirety of Aristotle's corpus. What Alexander of Aphrodisias would later, while commenting on the Prior Analytics, refer to as λογική, is for Aristotle the Ὄργανον --the organ or instrument. As such its employment is not an ἐπιστήμη --rather, it is a τεχνή, an art. But it is not only an art. Logic enjoys, according to the tradition, the esteem of being called the art of arts, a title it shares with only one other art, namely, the art of the ordering of the πόλις, politics. For indeed, if all arts are learned, they are a kind of knowledge and are therefore ultimately acquired and perfected under the direction of reason, but the art of logic is most exceptional in this respect; it is an art not only directed by, but directing of, reason. If, then, we envision reason, or more precisely λόγος, as the director of all the arts, logic must be considered the director of the director. But once we characterize logic in this twofold sense of being most generally, an art and, more specifically, an art of arts, we are confronted with an inherent problem in the determination of this peculiar art.
        The initial glimpse of this problem may be had by simply comparing logic's status as an art to its epistemic role as a propadeutic. Logic can not be science because it does not know the cause of its subject matter. The question that seems to press forward is: how can Aristotle allow his entire edifice of epistemic pursuit to be built on a cornerstone that is not epistemic and ignorant of its causes? After all, Physics, for example, may be based on something entirely lower than science, namely ἐμπειρία, or the knowledge that something happens under certain conditions, but Physics also grounds this basis, since it is knowledge of why these same things happen. Logic, however, is art, and is therefore beneath ἐπιστήμη. How can the former be something upon which the latter is dependent? But this question already contains its own answer. Art is neither knowledge-that nor knowledge-why, but knowledge-how. As an art, logic shows us how to reason, but it does not show us why this is the case. Thus the logic is, like experience of nature, a basis which  is grounded by that for which it is a basis; the categories are metaphysical before they are logical, the principle of non-contradiction is a principle of Being before it is a principle of the truth of predication. Thus the initial glimpse of the problem turns out to be only a glimpse of a pseudo problem; even the discovery of logic is no real mystery: its principles come to light merely as the principles of how we think, just as the builder's knowledge of angles is merely the knowledge of how to build stable structures. And if the causes of the builder's art are known by the physicist and geometer, the causes of the logicians art are known by the metaphysician --but this does not in any way alter the truth of what the builder or logician know; the rules of building or thinking remain the same despite the state of our knowledge of their causes. Hegel's objection made against a critical or preliminary epistemology that is motivated by practical concerns for the securing of scientific success seems to have lost all its footing if it is made to stand against the division of Aristotelian logic.
          And yet despite the tidiness of this reasonable resolution, there remains something problematic: 'rules' are known in a very different way then they are appropriated. One may know the rules of an art through and through and yet fail as an artisan. When one is apprentice to a master, presumably he does not simply learn the rules of a craft, and indeed, he may not ever learn them as rules at all. But the good apprentice must reside in the locale of his master and keep an intimate proximity to him. He is not told what the master knows, but must rather discover for himself what the master has discovered for himself --and for this reason the apprentice must enter into the region and the 'workshop' of another and make it his own. This appropriation happens not as a focusing on the master, but as a focusing upon what he is focusing on. Such a thing may later be talked about with varying degrees of accuracy, but it is only encountered for the artisan in the not yet articulate world of his craft; in the smithy of the blacksmith, the kitchen of the chef, the studio of the painter, the stable and fields of the horseback rider. It is only from this inarticulate domain of appropriation that rules are later derived. In each case the art is appropriated, but it is known in terms of rules in a much different manner --and for reasons other than for simply performing the art.
         Here, however, we return to a new dimension of the problem. If logic is an art then its discovery is subject to the distinction between appropriation from out of a domain of mastery and rule-formulation. But logic is, as has been said, not just an art. It is the art of arts. Where is its smithy, kitchen, studio, or stable? Each domain belongs to a single art, but logic is art which directs that very thing (λόγος) which directs these arts. How then is logic appropriated? Can its appropriation take place apart from a discourse of its rules? 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What Epistemology? What about Logic? A (Self-) Reflection on the Limits of the Self-Reflexivity of Knowledge (Part One)

Recently, a brief argument was made (though perhaps only indirectly as fodder for dialectic) in support of the legitimacy of epistemology insofar as it is understood as being "motivated by a practical concern for actually having knowledge." Such an epistemology, the claim continues, "is prerequisite to the sure success of metaphysics itself." The practice of critique (and the primacy of the practical domain that it implies), the concern for actual possession of knowledge, and, of course, the demand that metaphysics be successful, are all, even if they may also be other things, unmistakably Kantian (see here for a few volleys regarding just these points in their connection to the central contention of Kant's first Kritik). Anticipating his sweeping critique and simultaneous justification of skepticism in his Phenomenology, Hegel's response to this sort of deference to critique/epistemological propadeutic, found in his famous Introduction to that opus, is among the most succinct formulations of a powerful counter-thrust to this epistemological tendency:
Meanwhile, if the fear of falling into error introduces an element of distrust into science, which without any scruples of that sort goes to work and actually does know, it is not easy to understand why, conversely, a distrust should not be placed in this very distrust, and why we should not take care lest the fear of error is not just the initial error. As a matter of fact, this fear presupposes something, indeed a great deal, as truth, and supports its scruples and consequences on what should itself be examined beforehand to see whether it is truth. It starts with ideas of knowledge as an instrument, and as a medium; and presupposes a distinction of ourselves from this knowledge...
 The practically motivated epistemology that sets for itself the goal of establishing those things that would be a prerequisite to the "success" of the first science, namely metaphysics, is itself, in Hegel's estimation, indebted to a presupposed understanding of knowledge as "an instrument, and as a medium" --hence the need to learn how to direct it which this proposed epistemology would satisfy. But the instrumental function of knowledge is indebted to a much older thinking which, perhaps ironically, has no place for epistemology. This older thinking is the thinking of that ancient founder of Logic, Aristotle. That consideration capable of considering knowledge apart from its objects, and thereby capable of directing scientific pursuit as a propadeutic to the latter which could ensure its correctness, is to be found in those books which Aristotle called the Organon, the instrument. But what of this understanding of logic as a propadeutic, as an art, and as the directions for right reasoning? How does it fare against Hegel's critique? Does his critique not penetrate even beyond Kant and into his greatest intellectual fore-father(s)?