Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Logic, Naturally

We live in a common everyday world of persons and things, beings that exist with their own unique natures and traits, that act and are acted on, and whose being and behavior exist and are intelligible through causes. Our logical tools, such as definitions, syllogisms, universal concepts, affirmative and negative statements, inductions, relations of oppositions, and so on, are adapted to cognizing a world of everyday experience.

Some may say that this common world of everyday experience has been discredited and displaced as a result of the world view of modern science, particularly physics. And a logic adapted to a knowledge of everyday experience must now give way to a logic adapted to getting to know the esoteric world of modern physical science.

But as long as one remains within the context of the elaborate mathematical constructions and theories of modern physics, a logic adapted to the intentional function of enabling us to come to know things in terms of what they are essentially, through their causes and in their acts of existing, appears to be out of place and irrelevant, since mathematical theories of physics seem unconcerned with things such as causes, essences, substances, acts of existing, and so on.

But that does not imply that our world or our logic for understanding our world is discredited or displaced. Scientists cannot avoid being human, immersed in an everyday world of living and nonliving things, friends and enemies, birth and death, joy and sorrow, change and permenance, intelligibility and mystery. And as an inhabitant of this world of common experience, a scientist cannot avoid thinking and reasoning and trying to understand as a human being. So a scientist will want to know what this is, whether that is, and why something else is, a concern with essences, existences, and causes. But such concerns are served only by a human or humanistic logic.

Concepts, statements, and arguments are necessary instruments that we naturally use in trying to understand the world.