Essays in Logic from Aristotle to Russell

Essays in Logic from Aristotle to Russell

Essays in Logic from Aristotle to Russell

Essays in Logic from Aristotle to Russell

Excerpt

The arguments favoring the study of philosophers' original texts, whether by student or amorphous "general reader," are manifold and overwhelming. Fortunately, the revival of the practice coincides, as cause and consequent, with a paper-backed publishing revolution which makes it possible for most of us to own Aristotle's or Russell's books if we wish. What the reader has in hand, however, is only a substitute for that. Substitute and prologue, but it aims to serve better than available textbook alternatives.

In the colleges, increased use of original texts is widespread in such branches of philosophy as epistemology and ethics. Pedagogically, at least, logic has lagged behind. One reason may lie in the fearsome difficulty of some of the important sources. But not everything that Aristotle wrote is as obscure as the popular conviction suggests, nor, for that matter, as archaic as Russell, for one, believes. In any event, the intention of the present book is to confront the reader with significant texts which are not beyond the disciplined reach of the first year logic student.

Further reason for the pedagogical logical lag lies perhaps in the prevalence of a professional attitude which tends to regard logic and its history, like some of science, as the accumulation of results on the frontier, rather than a continuing debate on the fundamentals. Though Russell is more or less an exponent of this view, it has the consequence that the texts of both Russell and Aristotle are widely taken to be as pedagogically dispensable as those of, say, Einstein or Newton. We can let the case of Newton and Einstein rest; but the conviction that such an attitude is inappropriate with respect to Aristotle, Russell, and the rest is what inspires the present collection.

There are plenty of imperfections in this assembly, faults not only of the collected, but of the collecting. So let us offer the kindly critic a helping hand, and observe that what is here represented . . .

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