Logicism

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

LOGICISM

The philosophical conviction that logic alone can solve all problems, whether scientific, philosophical, or theological, because these are reducible to logical problem. Although sometimes opposed to psychologism as a tendency to construct a logic independently of psychology or to reduce psychology to logic, it is more commonly contrasted with mathematicism as an attempt to reduce all of mathematics to logic (see mathematics, philosophy of).

Historically, logicism made its appearance in the 12th century with the efforts of Peter abelard to solve the problem of universals. It later developed into nomnalism and skepticism towards the close of the Middle Ages. In recent times its revival parallels the growth of symbolic or mathematical logic, and the related movements of logical positivism and analytical philosophy (see logic, symbolic).

While logic is a universal discipline that has important contributions to make to both science and philosophy, its overemphasis can have harmful effects. One of these is the confusion it generates between method and content. More important is its failure to recognize any distinction between logic and metaphysics. Logic concerns itself with ideas, judgments, laws of reasoning, and their expressions as these exist formally in the mind, whereas metaphysics concerns itself with reality as this exists in itself. Logical beings are actually contents of the mind as universals of second intention that are univocal in meaning; ontological being is transcendental and analogical in meaning. Logic emphasizes the extension of concepts, whereas metaphysics is more concerned with intension and hierarchies of content.

By confusing ontological being with logical being, logicism makes logic overreach itself and thus become indistinguishable from other forms of thought.

See Also: methodology (philosophy); metaphysics, validity of.

Bibliography: e. h. gilson, The Unity of Philosophical Experience (New York 1937). j. maritain, Distinguish to Unite, or The Degrees of Knowledge, tr. g. b. phelan from 4th French ed. (New York 1959).

[e. q. franz]