Analytical reasoning refers to the ability to look at information, be it qualitative or quantitative in nature, and discern patterns within the information. Analytical reasoning involves deductive reasoning with no specialised knowledge, such as: comprehending the basic structure of a set of relationships; recognizing logically equivalent statements; and inferring what could be true or must be true from given facts and rules. Analytical reasoning is axiomatic in that its truth is self-evident. In contrast, synthetic reasoning requires that we include empirical observations, which are always open to doubt. The specific terms “analytic” and “synthetic” themselves were introduced by Kant (1781) at the beginning of his Critique of Pure Reason.
In the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, analytic reasoning represents judgments made upon statements that are based on the virtue of the statement's own content. No particular experience, beyond an understanding of the meanings of words used, is necessary for analytic reasoning.
For example, "John is a bachelor." is a given true statement. Through analytic reasoning, one can make the judgment that John is unmarried. One knows this to be true since the state of being unmarried is implied in the word bachelor; no particular experience of John is necessary to make this judgement.
To suggest that John is married—given that he is a bachelor—would be self-contradictory.
- See Stephen Palmquist, "Knowledge and Experience - An Examination of the Four Reflective 'Perspectives' in Kant's Critical Philosophy", Kant-Studien 78:2 (1987), pp.170-200; revised and reprinted as Chapter IV of Kant's System of Perspectives (Lanham: University Press of America, 1993).
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