LU-ADLER, Huaping. Kant and the Science of Logic.
The structure of Kant and the Science of Logic is straightforward. In the first chapter, Lu-Adler surveys the sources and materials that are necessary to reconstruct Kant's views on logic and explains how they are to be evaluated. She is rightfully suspicious of the textbook published as Kant's Logic (1800) by Gottlob Benjamin Jasche. While Jasche's logic can be helpful, it should never be read apart from Kant's Reflexionen, the transcripts of his lectures, and his other published works. It is only when these sources are compared, using what Lu-Adler calls a "perspectival approach," that Kant's distinctive views on logic can be understood. Once this approach has been adopted, Lu-Adler argues, the "critical eclecticism" of Kant's approach to logic becomes apparent. According to Lu-Adler, Kant's conception of logic is both critical and eclectic, because it begins with "a constructive analysis of how past philosophers might have sought to build and support their systems." However, this is merely a preliminary phase in the construction of a system, in which one must evaluate one's own opinions and those of one's contemporaries, in order to arrive at sound principles and architectonic unity. Lu-Adler thinks this approach helps to avoid the problems of uncritical syncretism and dogmatic systembuilding, while connecting fruitfully with "Kant's view of what it means to become a genuinely independent thinker," which can be achieved only within "a community of autonomous truth-seekers, through an honest exchange of ideas and perspectives."
Chapters 2 and 3 reconstruct the problems that Kant's conception of logic was meant to address. Lu-Adler surveys, in chapter 2, the history of logic from antiquity to the renaissance, highlighting the place logic was thought to occupy within philosophy as well as the utility it was thought to have. Lu-Adler's chapter brings into sharp relief the ambiguous place logic has occupied in the history of European philosophy, showing that it is by no means clear, within that history, whether logic was a science; whether it is a theoretical or practical discipline; whether it has its own subject matter; whether it is merely an aid to grammar, ethics, or metaphysics; and whether the development of a technical, formal logical is to be celebrated or condemned. In chapter 3, she extends this inquiry into the early modern period. Lu-Adler argues that early modern European philosophers faced many of the same problems as their medieval and renaissance predecessors, though their views on logic were also affected by the new methods being developed in the natural sciences (Bacon), a new emphasis on intellectual freedom (Locke), as well as a desire to formalize the rules of thinking and explain their relation to mathematics (Leibniz and Wolff).
In chapter 4, Lu-Adler identifies two "breakthroughs" in Kant's philosophy of logic during the pre-critical period. The first is a distinction between (1) the logic of the common understanding and (2) the logic of learned understanding, which corresponds, roughly, to the distinction between pure and applied general logic. Kant insists in the transcripts of some of his logic lectures that the logic of the learned understanding is a science, because it is grounded in a priori principles, but he denies that the logic of the common understanding is a science, because it is grounded in empirical principles. The second breakthrough is the development of Kant's conception of transcendental logic, which Lu-Adler traces back to Kant's characterization of ontology as a subjective transcendental logic in Reflexionen dated to the early 1770s. She argues that Kant's search for the "proper method" of metaphysics in the 1760s and 1770s eventually led him to conclude that, if ontology were to be made scientific, it could not be a general account of "being in general or insofar as it is" (Wolff) or "the more general predicates of a being" (Baumgarten). Kant realized that the categories of such an ontology would have to be subjected to a transcendental critique and, eventually, replaced by an account of the conditions under which objects could be thought a priori. "Transcendental logic" seemed like an appropriate name for this science, because, for Kant, transcendental philosophy is concerned with the a priori conditions of our cognition and logic is concerned with the conditions of thought.
In the fifth chapter, Lu-Adler directly confronts the conception of logic that Kant articulates in his first Critique. After a short introduction, LuAdler explains why Kant thinks pure general logic is both a "subjective and an "objective" science, that is, a science of rules of the logical use of the understanding, which abstracts from the "objects" of thought, while also containing rules that are universal and necessary a priori. In the next section, she clarifies the sense in which Kant thinks pure general logic was a "formal" science, distinguishing the logical "form" of thought from its object, whatever distinguishes the content of different thoughts, and the empirical-psychological conditions of thought. To establish the objectivity and formality of the science of logic, Lu-Adler argues, in the following section, that logic needs to be subjected to a "critique" similar to the critique of pure reason. In the last section, she shows why Kant thinks such a critique is both necessary and possible, despite his famous claim, in the 'Preface' to the second (B, 1787) edition of the first Critique, that the science of logic has been complete since Aristotle (KrV, Bvii). In the end, Lu-Adler argues that it is "liberating" to realize that, despite endorsing the completeness thesis, Kant still struggled with the science of pure general logic, and recognized its principles as topics of philosophical reflection, instead of contenting himself with a preestablished system of logical rules.
My only reservations about Kant and the Science of Logic are incidental to Lu-Adler's aims and the arguments she presents. First, I'm not sure the method Lu-Adler employs is really "perspectival." Perspectivism is often associated with the Nietzschean view that philosophical claims reflect the subjective perspectives of the philosophers who make them, rather than objective truth. Lu-Adler relies on a contextual and comparative methodology to achieve a convergence of different perspectives, derived from different sources, and, thus, to approximate the truth of Kant's conception of logic. Second, I take issue with Lu-Adler's account of Kant's "critical eclecticism." While it is true that Kant was aware of the views of some of his predecessors, and addressed them in his notes, lectures, and published writings, he also insisted, in the first Critique, that philosophy begins with "a critique of the faculty of reason in general," rather than "a critique of books and systems" (KrV, Axii, A13/B26). This is significant, because I do not think Kant thought the science of logic was as dependent on the "honest exchange of ideas and perspectives" as Lu-Adler suggests. As important as Kant thinks this process was for enlightenment and the achievement of humanity's moral vocation, he still thinks scientific truths are based on demonstrations from a priori principles. Finally, I think it is important to place Meier's definition of logic as a science of "learned cognition and learned discourse" within the Thomasian tradition, since it was Thomasius who first identified "learned cognition" (gelehrten Erkentnnis) as the object of logic in his Einleitung zur Vernunftlehre (1690-1691). Lu-Adler is right that Kant embraces this view in the transcripts of some of his earlier lectures, but he rejects it in later ones, as well as in the first Critique, where he characterizes the object of the science of logic as "the formal rules of all thinking" (KrV, Bviii) and not "learned cognition." Despite these quibbles, I think the conclusions LuAdler draws about Kant's views on the science of logic, its object, and its relation to other parts of philosophy are sound and salutary. Kant and the Science of Logic is a major accomplishment.--J. Colin McQuillan, St. Mary's University
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|Author:||McQuillan, J. Colin|
|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2019|
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