RE: [OPE] Dialectics for the New Century

From: Paul Cockshott (
Date: Sat Apr 05 2008 - 18:29:15 EDT

the account you give of logic is certainly what people in the 20th century came to see
logic as, following on from the work of Frege. However one has to ask whether this
by itself is the only form of logic one could have. What about quantum logics for
example, or the argument that since only a tiny portion of the sense data entering
out eyes and ears makes it into conciousness, there has to be some sort of lower
level logic used by the nervous system that is not reducible to or expressible
directly in terms of the sort of re-writing rules that dominate the school of
logic deriving from Frege.

The connectionist theorists of conciousness would argue for this, and the guy I mentioned
earlier Dominic Widdows has an interesting paper here
arguing along those sorts of lines.

I share some of your scepticism about the claims of dialectical logic, since, in the 
absence of axioms and theorems it seems one is allowed to draw any conclusion one likes
and call it dialectical. But it does not follow that all logics have to be in terms of
formal languages and rules of deduction. Remember Leibniz proposing to resolve disputes
by saying 'let us calculate'. Well the first generation of AI research, interpreted this
as a program for the mechanisation of logic along the lines  you suggest "a 
formal language and a set of axioms and rules from which one deduces 
statements." but Leibniz's injunction 'calculate' can be defined in other ways, that is the import of 
Widdows argument.

Consider the issue we were debating yesterday about the origins of money, and the empirical
support for different theories. These assesments are not primarily made using deductive logic,
but are judgments about the balance of probabilities given certain historical evidence.

Paul Cockshott
Dept of Computing Science
University of Glasgow
+44 141 330 1629

-----Original Message-----
From: on behalf of Dave Zachariah
Sent: Sat 4/5/2008 11:11 PM
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
Subject: Re: [OPE] Dialectics for the New Century
on 2008-04-04 15:03 GERALD LEVY wrote:
> Consider the logic of social psychology. I don't think that logic can
> be reduced to just formulae. I think that any progressive psychologist
> would agree. Consider the logic of social movements and class struggle.
> I don't think that logic can be reduced to formulae.

I think we are using 'logic' somewhat different here. I suppose what you 
mean is causal laws or mechanisms of social psychology, class struggle 
etc. They have empirically testable content.

I was speaking of logic proper, as a in 'logical system', which is a 
formal language and a set of axioms and rules from which one deduces 
statements. Since you were referring to 'dialectical logic' in the 
original post I was interested in what precisely this means: Does it 
exist and if so, how does one go about to construct it (are there modern 
texts that does this)? If it can be expressed in words then it can be 
expressed in strings of symbols too.

//Dave Z
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