Talk:Non-Aristotelian logic

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This article as it stands is nonsense. General Semantics is not logic (it's nonsense too, but that's beside the point), and fuzzy logic, modal logic, and paraconsistent logics routinely do divide sentences into true and false. SHould probably be deleted as an article. Certainly, "Aristotelian" is not a term used to classify any modern logics.

Hmmh.. the article certainly does need rethinking.

Most of the matches for "non-aristotelian logic" on google seem to be to online encyclopedia entries, most of which are identicle to this one. Despite this however, i think that this topic deserves to be addressed, though perhaps there is a more common name for it.

In response to the first poster, general semantics is a form of logic. It argues that classical logic attempts to put a true or false value upon subjects that cannot be treated this way, thus, performing deductions on a word, and not it's meaning (The map is not the territory).

From the quick reading i did, it seems that the term "non-aristotelian" is only ever used by advocates of General Semantics and similar ideologies. IMO it should be changed, not removed. Specifying that the term is used primarily to describe General Semantics. While the other forms mentioned do seem to fit the definition, they are never used associated with the term as far as i can see.

If this article should be kept, it definatly needs to be very well researched. Its general usage seems to be different to what one might gather from reading Aristotelian logic (which, btw should definatly be linked to).

Null-A or Non-Arstotelian...[edit]

Once, now many years ago, I was a member of the Institute of General Semantics, and I would not equate Non-Aristotlean logic with GS, but would instead argue that GS falls into the set of Non-Aristotelean ways of thought. As I understand it, Null-A logic simply refers to those logic systems that avoid strict subject-predicativism - and allow for more complex relationships. -Fish-man 18:09, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)

  • I note that the person who inserted the dispute is anonymous, and not to take away from the contributions of anonymous users, this article, although short, is clear, and fairly accurate, at least from the POV world of GS. (Honestly, the item is so small, I don't see how one can dispute it. It doesn't say a lot) I think that the dispute could reasonably be removed, especially if we add some supporting references. (Korzybsky's Science and Sanity, perhaps some quotes from Whitehead, etc...)
  • I also would like to reorganize so that we have a list of examples of Null-A logics, instead of a 'See' list.--Fish-man 12:16, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Not True or False:

I would agree that the article misleads. A better definition might be something like this: "The term non-Aristotelian logic is used for any system of logic based on three or more values, as opposed to Aristotle's two-valued system of logic."

As for general semantics, for some reason, some students and critics of general semantics (GS) are fond of describing it as a "non-A logic", or "a form of logic", depictions that mislead. Korzybski said, "Most 'philosophers', 'logicians', and even mathematicians look at this non-aristotelian system of evaluation as some system of formal non-aristotelian 'logic', which is not the case." That should settle the matter.

Rather than 'non-A logic', GS can be better described as a non-Aristotelian system of orientation. Aristotelian logic is based in part on 'A is B or not B', the law of the excluded third. In Korzybski's system, A can be described as "B" or as "not B" at one time or another depending on the situation and one's assumptions, criteria, and so on. This gives one explanation for the adjective 'non-Aristotelian' when referring to his system. Korzybski's system can also be described as non-Chrysippian, in that in his system, a statement can be regarded as meaningless, as well as true or false.


The problem with the article is surely that it attempts to lump together a wide variety of logics under a single heading, and worse that heading is a highly prejorative term deriving from the ideology of General Semantics, which should not itself be confused with any form of logic.

For example, modal logic is listed here, and yet there is nothing inherently non-Aristotelian in modal logic, which deals with the logic of possibilities and intensional objects. Indeed, Aristotle can be read (in the famosu sea battle example) as having initiated the study of modal sentences. Thus it is simply and blatantly false to list modal logic under this heading. Similarly, I don't see why the isolated sentence about Bayesian statistics is included, or what it has to do with the subject under discussion.

As for the suggestion: 'A better definition might be something like this: "The term non-Aristotelian logic is used for any system of logic based on three or more values, as opposed to Aristotle's two-valued system of logic."' this too is inaccurate. First, the term non-Aristotelian is not one in common use for such systems: the standard terms are 'many-valued logic' and 'deviant logic'. Second, Aristotle discussed the possibility of propositions taking a third truth-value. A much better term is the wider 'Non-classical logic', which includes such two-valued logics as modal logic, in addition to the deviant logics.

Article should be deleted, on the grounds that (a) it is factually false (see above) (b) it seems to derive its information from A.E.van Vogt and General Semantics - both highly tendentious sources (c) (as noted elsewhere) the term 'non-Aristotelian logic' is not one in standard common use (d) this area is far better covered by existing articles.

J Porter

I could maybe see merging this article with multi-valued logic or some other term. But I don't see why you'd consider the current name "blatantly false". Aristotle gave the world a formal system of logic that ruled out multiple truth values. (See Aristotelian logic.) He also says, at one place in his copious writings, that not all his logical laws apply to statement about the future. As far as we know, he did not pursue this further. Dan 23:51, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

Opening Paragraph[edit]

Proponents of General Semantics take as meaning any non-classical system of logic which uses three or more truth values. They argue that this renders relatively 'subjective' conclusions from inductive logic, rather than relying strictly on the binary, deductive reasoning widely accepted as yielding more 'objective' results and capable of providing 'scientific proof'.

My first reaction to that last sentence was unprintable. I gather that Ombudsman wrote it and someone then attributed it to "proponents of General Semantics". Don't do that. Even without the ambiguity in the current phrasing (which could mean that the adoption of null-A logics makes the field of inductive logic seem subjective), the sentence seems misleading at best. Who on Earth claims that induction can't provide scientific proof? Certainly not Korzybski! Dan 23:51, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

moved from article: It is argued that the null-A concept is complementary to Aristotle's deductive system of two-valued, true/false logic, i.e., "A is either B, or it is not B."

This position, it must be said, is largely driven by General Semanticist ideology. The majority of polyvalent logics (e.g. Relevant logic, the Continuum logic and the Kleene 3-logic) make no claim to replace deductive reasoning, but are generally extensions of classical logic intended to deal with specific issues (e.g. the paradoxes of material implication, theories of truth) and are strictly axiomatic, making them rigorously deductive.

We may very well want to include this in the article, but without the unclear account of general semantics that I removed. I don't know quite how to fit the rest in right now, but I'll take another look later. Dan 04:33, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

Ombudsman, thank you for providing a source. But the wording still seems unclear, and it doesn't quite spell out that the phrase "widely accepted" describes van Vogt's view of public opinion rather than public opinion itself. (Does that interpretation seem right to you?) Dan 00:56, 19 April 2006 (UTC)


I started to add Korzybski's preemptive respose to Gardner's criticism, but on reflection all of this seems kind of irrelevant. The paragraph I responded to starts out talking about criticism of the term "non-Aristotelian logic", which seems like an excellent topic to include in the article. But then, for its sole example, it cites Gardner talking about Korzybski. As other users have pointed out, Korzybski did not propose any non-Aristotelian logic. He proposed a philosophical system (for want of a better term) that happens to include aspects of non-Aristotelian logics. (It also tries to describe the world without any reference to Aristotelian forms or essences. See the part about knowledge here.) I moved the Gardner bit and the obvious response here; suppose you tell me how much of this you think belongs in the article:

It has been highly questioned whether what has been called "non-Aristotelian logic" is actually contrary to Aristotle, even when that is what it claims to be. Martin Gardner wrote of Korzybski that he "never tired of knocking over 'Aristotelian' habits of thought, in spite of the fact that what he called Aristotelian was a straw structure which bore almost no resemblance to the Greek philosopher's manner of thinking."[1]
(In the preface to the first edition of his book Science and Sanity -- in 1933, more than twenty years before Gardner's attack -- Korzybski wrote the following: The system by which the white race lives, suffers, 'prospers', starves, and dies today is not in a strict sense an aristotelian system. Aristotle had far too much of the sense of actualities for that. It represents, however, a system formulated by those who, for nearly two thousand years since Aristotle, have controlled our knowledge and methods of orientations, and who, for purposes of their own, selected what today appears as the worst from Aristotle and the worst from Plato and, with their own additions, imposed this composite system upon us. In this they were greatly aided by the structure of language and psycho-logical habits, which from the primitive down to this very day have affected all of us consciously or unconsciously, and have introduced serious difficulties even in science and in mathematics.)
  1. ^ Gardner, Martin (1957). Fads and Fallacies In the Name of Science. New York: Dover Publications.
Hi, Dan? Please go read WP:NPOV. This is a verifiable, cited opinion about the subject held by a respected source. Don't go removing it because you disagree with it and if you feel you must add "Korzybski's preemptive respose" then try to do it in actual Wikipedia fashion (hint, characterizing it as an "attack" suggests that you need a lot of catchup on NPOV.) -- Antaeus Feldspar 15:15, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
I know you verified it, I read that part of the book. I removed it because either it refers to philosophical issues that seem irrelevant to the article, or it completely fails to grasp Korzybski's meaning. When he calls his system "non-Aristotelian", he doesn't just mean that it involves what Łukasiewicz called non-Aristotelian logic. He also means that it rejects Aristotle's theory of knowledge (in which the knower possesses the essential form of the object) and follows the practical implications of this rejection (which happen to include aspects of non-Aristotelian logics). But I'll leave it and include what Korzybski said on the (seemingly irrelevant) topic.
(Addendum.) To put it another way, I think both paragraphs belong at general semantics in some form. I've already copied them there with a bit of additional criticism. Barring arguments for relevance, I'll remove them from here on the grounds that they confuse the issue. If you want to add criticisms of the field or name of non-Aristotelian logic, then find some! If you want to add criticism of related positions from the field of epistemology or psychology, please put them where they belong. Dan 00:04, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

Non-Aristotelian logic[edit]

Perhaps I haven't made my argument clear. Gardner's statement seems like "a verifiable, cited opinion [...] held by a respected source" and referring to General Semantics. (Accordingly, I copied it to general semantics and used it as the seed of a criticism section in that article.) It addresses Korzybski's use of the term "non-Aristotelian" for various habits of thought. It does not address his use, or Lukasiewicz's use, or anyone's use of the term "non-Aristotelian logic". Gardner calls Aristotle a philosopher (not a logician), and accuses Korzybski of misrepresenting Aristotle's "manner of thinking" (not his logical writings). If we want to interpret this criticism in the most charitable way, we must assume the author knew that Korzybski's critique of "Aristotelian" thought went far beyond endorsing some forms of non-classical logic. (And in the case of this particular passage, the most charitable interpretation seems the most plausible.) By a startling coincidence, Korzybski's defense of his word choice -- which NPOV tells us to include after a critique of his word choice -- mentions philosophical issues that go beyond logic. Including Gardner's words at non-Aristotelian logic, even without the other side, would mean bringing in philosophical issues that in my view clearly do not belong at the article. Kindly remove them. As I said before: if you want to add criticisms of the term "non-Aristotelian logic", then find some! Dan 06:24, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

The common person, upon seeing the words "non-Aristotelian logic", would assume that what they describe is, indeed, logic which is excluded from the category of logic designated "Aristotelian". If in fact this is not necessarily the case, this is important to tell the reader. Since the average reader who has heard of "non-Aristotelian logic" and is looking it up in Wikipedia almost certainly heard about it in the context of a) Korzybski's General Semantics or b) van Vogt's popularization of the same, to claim that it isn't relevant to non-Aristotelian logic because there are some forms of "non-Aristotelian logic" that aren't connected with Korzybski's use of terminology does not hold up on examination. -- Antaeus Feldspar 12:58, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
To claim that what isn't relevant? I agree with the suggestion of including some criticism of the term. As I have said repeatedly, the passage from Gardner does not criticize the term "non-Aristotelian logic". It addresses a different use of the word "non-Aristotelian". This by itself seems like sufficient reason to remove it. Furthermore, its current use in the article blurs the line between the two senses of "null-A". Far from educating readers, it would confuse them unnecessarily. Even if you want to address Korzybski's word choice in the article, adding this passage with no explanation seems to me like a terrible way to do it. Dan 20:31, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

I've now edited the general semantics article to explain the distinction, q.v. Barring objections, I will replace the Gardner paragraph with a brief account of the term in Korzybski. So far I haven't found any actual criticism of the term "non-Aristotelian logic" outside the 'pedia. Reading your most recent response again, I wonder what you mean by saying "if in fact this is not necessarily the case, this is important to tell the reader." Wikipedia reports what people have said. Do you want to include a reference to Aristotle's sea battle? Dan 06:37, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Well, let me put it this way. Suppose someone published a philosophical tract they called "anti-Korzybskianism". Your attention is definitely caught by that choice of words -- and by "choice of words", of course, we mean the choice to create such a word. You read the book and discover that the author talks again and again about the need to dispense with the outmoded and inadequate "Korzybskian" thinking, which he does specify is named after Count Korzybski. However, the author explains, despite the fact that he has named both "Korzybskian thinking" and "anti-Korzybskian thinking" after Count Korzybski, "Korzybskian thinking" should not be taken to mean "the thinking advocated by Count Korzybski".
Do you think that readers of an article on anti-Korzybskianism should be told that the "Korzybskian thinking" that anti-Korzybskianism so ruthlessly exposes the flaws of doesn't actually represent the views of the person it was named after? I don't know, I think it's fairly obvious that they should be told that. However, perhaps you might differ; perhaps you think that readers should be allowed to believe that all the bad things that "Korzybskianism" represents in anti-Korzybskianism theory are actually an accurate picture of what Korzybski himself advocated. What do you think? -- Antaeus Feldspar 03:01, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
I think I addressed this at length in the general semantics article. Now, what would you say if someone attached criticism of your views -- criticism you consider misleading at best -- to an article on a different topic, even though its presence suggests a false interpretation that even the original critic would disavow? (Did I still fail to get across the two meanings of 'non-Aristotelian'? I thought the addition to general semantics seemed pretty clear.) Dan 03:50, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
(But to get back to my question, while I accepted at first the claim that people outside Wikipedia have criticised the term "non-Aristotelian logic", I haven't seen any good citations. The rules allow us to add a reference to the sea battle argument, because we can prove that exists.)
Have things your way, Dan. I will no longer contest your OWNership. Let's just hope that anyone who has heard things about this "non-Aristotelian logic" that came by way of Korzybski or van Vogt happens to stumble across the General Semantics as well so they can get pieces of the complete picture they won't be allowed to get here. -- Antaeus Feldspar 22:15, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

This is a seriously problematic article, and I suggest that it, ought, at best, be merged with Non-classical logic . Aristotelian vs. non-Aristotelian is a bad way to classify logics: propositional, predicate, and modal logics are not Aristotelian, but do not reject any of Aristotle's premisses. Moreover, it is a non-standard way to classify logics: compare google scholar searches for 'non-classical logic' vs. 'non-Aristotelian' logics. The latter yields far fewer results, many of which date back at least 50 years, or are historical studies of work from at least 50 years past. Furthermore, it's absurd that an article ostensibly discussing logic should be half devoted to science fiction. Is there any compelling reason why this article ought not to be folded into the Non-classical logic article? (aisiantonas)

Yes. Non-aristotelian logic is not a type of logic in itself but a sum-total of all other forms of logic. It supersedes and encompasses the other types and is a unique logical system. It is not a part of Non-classical logic in the same way that superstring theory is not a part of Non-classical physics. If anything this article is in need of much improvement, the future will certainly be disappointed that we chose to ignore this subject for so long. (PCMcGee)

I'm struggling to interpret that spiel as proferring a reason for anything. How can non-Aristotelian logic be both the sum-total of various logics and a logical system in its own right? The sum total of all logics other than what? Aristotelian logic? But why should there be an article on all the logics other than Aristotelian logic? Why not on all the logics other than S5 modal predicate logic? How is your analogy with physics in any way illuminating? Isn't after all superstring theory a part of non-classical physics, insofar as it is a theory of physics that is not among the classical theories of physics? The future will be pleased with all the high-level technical work in both classical and non-classical logics that is going on at present. It will not be disappointed that we deleted an online encyclopedia article about role of non-classical logic in science fiction. (aisiantonas)