Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Indispensable Requirements of Logic

It may seem strange that I should put forward three sentiments, namely, interest in an indefinite community, recognition of the possibility of this interest being made supreme, and hope in the unlimited continuance of intellectual activity, as indispensable requirements of logic. Yet, when we consider that logic depends on a mere struggle to escape doubt, which, as it terminates in action, must begin in emotion, and that, furthermore, the only cause of our planting ourselves on reason is that other methods of escaping doubt fail on account of the social impulse, why should we wonder to find social sentiment presupposed in reasoning? As for the other two sentiments which I find necessary, they are so only as supports and accessories of that. It interests me to notice that these three sentiments seem to be pretty much the same as that famous trio of Charity, Faith, and Hope, which, in the estimation of St. Paul, are the finest and greatest of spiritual gifts. Neither Old nor New Testament is a textbook of the logic of science, but the latter is certainly the highest existing authority in regard to the dispositions of heart which a man ought to have.

Charles S. Peirce, "On the Doctrine of Chances, with Later Reflections." Part of the point here is that logic requires treating reasoning as having a sort of universal character, going beyond any particularities of any individual point of view; this universality the self-absorbed cannot grasp. The community of the rational is an unlimited community, and its interest is the interest of the long-run and includes all possible reasoners. To be genuinely logical you must reason with this community, in imitation of the kind of person who could devote a life to this kind of community.

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