Consistency--What's Logic Got To Do With It


Frege used a 2-D notation for his logic.

Back in 1996, in a paper submitted to the annual Stanford-Berkeley graduate philosophy seminar, I wrote on the role of mathematical logic in the positivist philosophical work conducted in the twilight of the twentieth century.

This afternoon, I mentioned it, in passing, to a friend, and he suggested I should discuss it on my weblog. Now, this friend of mine (who likes to remain annonymous to search engines but who is one of the leads for our most important pieces of work on web services) noted that consistency was central to his methodology. We agreed that the Cartesian model of the world still remains the dominant one in many of the socio-operational systems around us.

In the paper, I claim that an over-emphasis on consistency (I should have been more precise and should have called this an over-emphasis on the the law of excluded middle) led to a misplacement of philosophical focus prior to Heidegger. Heidegger is the one who turned the philosophical ship from questions regarding epistemology, in the positivist tradition, to those regarding metaphysics and ontology, in the modern tradition of phenomenology. (Metaphysics and ontology had generally enjoyed a far greater priority in traditional philosophical investigation.)

My point in the paper was about the emphasis placed on consistency, not necessarily a critique of it, but rather a critique of its importance (as understood by modern positivists and logicians) to philosophical dialog and to philosophy.

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