[OPE] Dialectics for the New Century

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@tiscali.nl)
Date: Mon Apr 07 2008 - 02:25:48 EDT

The root meaning of dialectics is dialogue. A dialogue presupposes some shared premises or assumptions, but typically involves different logics on the part of participants. That is to say, from the same experience different people can draw different conclusions - the same experience permits of different inferences, and it may be that we cannot say that one set of inferences is intrinsically more logically compelling than another unless we agree to adopt a shared inferential system. 

In reality, therefore, what we face in human interactions is the fact that many different logical systems operate simultaneously, and that reasoning occurs which, although it may be proved non-arbitrary (non-random), is nevertheless not deductively compelling, since certain qualitative or quantitative values are imported or rejected from outside the inferential system according to which more or less weight is attached to some facts or reasonings. A person may be rational in his own terms, but not to anybody else, because they don't accept the same premises or assumptions.

The central problem of deductive inference is that a conclusion follows only if the premises are accepted, but that deductive inference itself provides no logically compelling method for importing the premises. At best we can say that, if particular premises are imported into the inferential system, then in some sense the inferential system can "prove itself". In other words, the only way an inferential system can "make rational sense" without leading to logically unacceptable consequences is, if we import certain premises, if we make certain assumptions. 

But all that says is that the inferential system specifies the conditions under which certain premises taken together can make meaningful sense, and the trouble there is that something may be meaningful even although this violates the inferential system, and indeed the meaning may not necessarily be specifiable in any known inferential system. 

The logician implies that for any meaning X an inferential system can be specified according to which X can be decomposed into a finite set of logical operators, but that is tantamount to saying that something is meaningful only if it is rational or logical. And that is from a linguistic or phenomenological perspective a very dubious idea, in particular because something can be asserted as meaningful without being part of any logical inference. 

In this respect, Viktor Frankl emphasized as a human characteristic the ability to generate new meaning even where no meaning previously existed, i.e. the capacity to identify, discriminate, associate and generalize completely new meanings, and new conditions (frames of reference) for making sense which go beyond known inferential systems or known logical rules. Therefore the theorem of the computability of all human experience may not do any justice to the "moment of innovation" which creates completely new inferential systems, and it may mystify their origin or source.  


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