Friday, January 28, 2011

Aquinas on Logic

As the Philosopher says in Metaphysics I (980b26), “the human race lives by art and reasonings.” In this statement the Philosopher seems to touch upon that property whereby man differs from the other animals. For the other animals are prompted to their acts by a natural impulse, but man is directed in his actions by a judgment of reason. And this is the reason why there are various arts devoted to the ready and orderly performance of human acts. For an art seems to be nothing more than a definite and fixed procedure established by reason, whereby human acts reach their due end through appropriate means.

Now reason is not only able to direct the acts of the lower powers but is also director of its own act: for what is peculiar to the intellective part of man is its ability to reflect upon itself. For the intellect knows itself. In like manner reason is able to reason about its own act. Therefore just as the art of building or carpentering, through which man is enabled to perform manual acts in an easy and orderly manner, arose from the fact that reason reasoned about manual acts, so in like manner an art is needed to direct the act of reasoning, so that by it a man when performing the act of reasoning might proceed in an orderly and easy manner and without error. And this art is logic, i.e., the science of reason. And it concerns reason not only because it is according to reason, for that is common to all arts, but also because it is concerned with the very act of reasoning as with its proper matter. Therefore it seems to be the art of the arts, because it directs us in the act of reasoning, from which all arts proceed.

Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle's Posterior Analytics, Prologue.

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