Monday, August 24, 2009


In all my years of studying philosophy, now, just when I thought I was finished with it for good, I've discovered what you're supposed to learn first: logic. I find it a relief, mainly because I thought there was nothing left for me in this science (that's right, assholes: philosophy is a science), but also because of the intellectual confidence which it fosters. I truly consider metaphysics to be "first philosophy," not only because it founds, grounds, and causes every other science, but also because it really ought to be studied first. I honestly don't see how my study of logic would be anything but a nightmare if I didn't already hold a rather rigid and traditional system of metaphysics. Before rational argument can even begin terms (which refer to things) must be defined and judgments (which refer to complexes of things) must be formed; and for the past sevenish years I have been focussed on these first two acts of the mind. The third act of the mind, reasoning, is what I've been missing, and it consists in logic proper. The "square of opposition" is about the most intellectually interesting thing I've encountered since I first encountered potency and act, essence and existence. I definitely see now how no intellectual advancement is possible without logic; without logic one remains stuck at the level of propositions which--even when true--don't go anywhere.

The difficulty, of course, has been in finding suitable books to learn from. One might say, "But there are tons of logic texts to choose from," but 99% of them are not for me. That 1% of logic texts--like that 1% of texts on metaphysics--is the Old Logic, of Aristotle and Aquinas, of Cicero and Augustine, which predates and, in my opinion, wholly outperforms the new, nominalistic symbolic logic. In all fairness to the symbolists, however, I can already see how it will be useful to one day study it, and then, perhaps, after that, mathematics. But it would be a gross error to do what the contemporary philosophy department in the mainstream university today does: teach symbolic logic with scarcely any reference to the ancient and infinitely more useful logic of Aristotle. In any case, through an antiquarian bookseller (, I discovered a gem by one Celestine Bittle--last printed in 1947--which gets down to brass tacks and teaches logic without regard or respect for contemporaneous "debates" or so-called "advancements" in the "field." And, thank God, it contains a bibliography with more books like it, all written, gloriously, before the 1950's. So that's a relief.

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