SelfAwarePatterns is an excellent blog if you’re interested in science, philosophy and similar topics (which covers pretty much everything). Earlier this week, its author, a self-aware pattern named Michael Smith, wrote about the nature of logic. He quoted several brief definitions of logic, including one by Gottlob Frege (1848-1925), one of history’s greatest logicians. According to Frege, logic is “the science of the most general laws of truth”, to which Mike Smith responded:
Gottlob Frege’s definition seems closest to my own current personal intuition about it, namely that logic represents the most fundamental relationships in our universe. These relationships are so fundamental, that we can take them and extrapolate truths using them, and often we’ll be right.
After reading this, I began writing a comment but quickly saw that my comment was turning into a post of my own. And since I need to keep this blog going in order to continue raking in the big money…
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2 thoughts on “Logic and the World”
Mike Smith (SelfAwarePatterns): “… According to Frege, logic is “the science of the most general laws of truth”. …Gottlob Frege’s definition seems closest to my own current personal intuition about it, namely that logic represents the most fundamental relationships in our universe. These relationships are so fundamental, that we can take them and extrapolate truths using them, and often we’ll be right.”
This is definitely correct in the ‘old’ school. But, no: logic is a totally poorly defined term. On the one side, there are logicians, and they are talking about some special type of formalism which is definitely not the ‘law’ of science by all means. There is not a single physics (or any science) law which is the result of those formal-logic. Of course, it is a ‘bit’ useful in math as it is in fact a subset of the math. In general term, there is the ‘logic’ of physics, logic of math, logic of biology, logic of Aristotle, logic of Buddhism, logic of devil, logic of … . No, logic is not a ‘truth’-machine but a useful ‘tool’ to relate some ‘statements’ while every those statements can be verified outside of the logic framework.
If logic is narrowly defined as Aristotle formalism or dialectic pathway, it will be fine, but it has nothing to do with the laws of science. This type of ‘logic’ is totally useless in science. After all, most of logicians are not scientists. If we define that ‘logic’ is the ‘pathway (process)’ of any nature event, then that logic will produce and describe the ‘laws’ of nature. I have showed this point at Scientia Salon with two comments on the Buddhist’s logic, and they will give more detailed argument on this.
Comment one: on logic, http://scientiasalon.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/graham-priest-on-buddhism-and-logic/comment-page-1/#comment-5925
Comment two: on mysticism, http://scientiasalon.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/graham-priest-on-buddhism-and-logic/comment-page-1/#comment-5994
I agree that formal logic has little if any use in actual science. Virtually no scientists have training in it.
But logic, broadly construed, and certainly mathematical logic, is a crucial aspect of science. Empirical observation is the backbone of science, but a scientific theory needs more than observation, it needs interpretation of that observation. Theories are generally based on those interpretations.
For example, when astronomers see far away galaxies, they are generally red, the further away, the redder they are. This redshift is generally interpreted to mean that those galaxies are moving away from us, with the further away ones moving away faster. This is an interpretation of the redshift (I think a very good one), but it is an interpretation, a logical one. A naive interpretation of this interpretation would be that we’re at the center of the universe with everything racing away from us. An interpretation more consistent with the Copernican principle, more logical, is that space itself is expanding throughout the universe, leading to the big bang theory.