perjantai 14. maaliskuuta 2014

What use of logic?

In case reader would still be perplexed after all the pages as to what use logic is, Wolff kindly considers at the very end of Latin logic how logic can help one also in every-day life. In particular Wolff is speaking of artificial logic, as he has no doubt that everyone concurs that natural logic or the natural capacities of knowledge seeking are quite useful. In fact, advantages of artificial logic lie mostly in the refinement of these natural capacities: we can more easily detect erroneous thought patterns by knowing just few tricks of trade.

Still, the main point of application for logic is academic life, which Wolff divides into three broad subfields. Firstly, a learned person is in business of searching truths – this task has been covered by the majority of Wolff's logic. Secondly, a learned person must engage herself with books – she must write them, but also read and evaluate them. We covered this part of academic life in the previous blog text.

The final field where a learned person can apply logic is then interaction with other people. She must be able to demonstrate what she claims to be true or at least make it sound convincing. She must also refute views she finds false and she must be able to defend her own position from refutations of other learned people. All these tasks use essentially similar rules of logic, just applied at different stages – indeed, best defense of one's viewpoint is just demonstration of its truth.

The work of demonstrating, refuting and defending overlaps somewhat with the publication of books, as most of scholarly discussion happens through text. Yet, there are places where a learned person must come to actual contact with other people. This is especially true of public debates, part of education of a learned person, in which one has to defend a view, possibly even such which the defender doesn't really endorse. Art of disputation is then for Wolff nothing else but application of the arts of demonstrating, refuting and defending – there is no place for rhetorical niceties in Wolff's idea of disputation.

If disputation is two-directional interaction, teaching Wolff sees more as unidirectional. In fact, Wolff's philosophy of education is rather meager: all one needs to do is to take care that students understand the definitions and axioms and then it is just simple application of the rules of demonstration in the correct Euclidean order.

Here finally ends the tale of Wolff's logic. Next time, I shall finally move on to the next generation of the critics of Wolffian philosophy.

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