“What is the Relationship Between Logic and Reality?”

Café Philo DC discussion topic, 27 August 2005
Proposed by Ralph Dumain

“Where then, lies the duty of surrationalism? It is to take over those formulas, well purged and economically ordered by the logicians, and recharge them psychologically, put them back into motion and into life . . . In teaching a revolution of reason, one would multiply the reasons for spiritual revolutions.”

—  Gaston Bachelard, “Surrationalism” (c. 1935)

This topic was my proposal and the idea was prompted by my reading of Graham Priest’s Beyond the Limits of Thought. I provided a running commentary on this book via email, and eventually wrote up this review:

Graham Priest, Paraconsistent Logic, and Philosophy, Or, Logic and Reality

My summaries and criticisms of some articles and debates involving Priest can be found here:

Graham Priest vs Erwin Marquit on Contradiction

We did not pursue a discussion of the book, as far as I can recall. I prepared two diagrams in advance. The first was my mapping of a complex network of relationships to be considered, connecting reality - mathematics - logic - language - concepts - thought:

“What is the relationship between logic & reality?”
(24 August 2005)


    ┌ → ── ──── ────
    ↑ ┌ ←→ ────
    ↑ ↑    
←→ reality ←→
           ↑         ↑
           ↑   thought ←→ language
           ↑        ↕
mathematics ←→ logic ←→ concepts
←→ ────

The second was Priest’s Inclosure Schema, based on his generalized conceptualization of paradoxes.

The founder of the group circulated some background material, which included entries on logic, logical positivism, reality, and Wittgenstein from Philosophy Pages (Garth Kemerling), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and Wikipedia.

The August 27 discussion overall went reasonably well, marred only by the anti-intellectual malice of one individual and to a much lesser extent by the ditziness of another (the usual suspects).  It proved impossible to cover all the aspects of the relationship that motivated me to propose the topic.  We made a few small inroads at best. Much of the conversation became a discussion of the relation of mathematics to reality, which involves a somewhat different treatment. I also brought up my recent reading of Graham Priest’s book Beyond the Limits of Thought.

Afterwards, I uploaded the two diagrams to the group’s file repository, and circulated this reading list, to which I add a few additional references circulated at that time.  These were intended not as endorsements, but as material for deliberation of the problems involved.  Some of these references are discussed in my essays on Priest. See also my bibliography/web guide:

Philosophy of Paraconsistency & Associated Logics


Dumitriu, Anton. History of Logic (English translation of 2nd ed.). 4 vols. Tunbridge Wells: Abacus Press, 1977.

“This is one of the most comprehensive histories of logic ever written. It covers such topics as (1) logic in ancient China, India, Greece, and Rome, (2) scholastic and renaissance logic, (3) the logic of empirical scientific method, i.e., the logic of experimentation, inductive logic and probability, and the logic of research, (4) the metaphysical and transcendental logics of Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, and Husserl, and (5) many topics in twentieth century mathematical logic, e.g., Russell, Gödel, many-valued logics, and the reactions to mathematical logic.”

Garfield, Jay L.; Priest, Graham. “Nagarjuna and the Limits of Thought,” Philosophy East and West, January 2003; 53 (1): 1-21.

Grim, Patrick. The Incomplete Universe: Totality, Knowledge, and Truth. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991.

Referenced in Priest.

Hanna, Robert. Rationality and Logic. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2006. See also:

Rationality and the Ethics of Logic,” Journal of Philosophy, 103 (2006): 67-100.

Havas, Katalin G. It’s Logical! Amsterdam; Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 1999. (Rodopi Philosophical Studies; 4)

_____________. Thought, Language, and Reality in Logic; translated by J. Kovács and M. Gulyás, revised by B. Dajka. Budapest : Akadémiai Kiadó, 1992.

Hirsch, Robin. Logic and Dialectics. May 18, 2003. Alternative site.

Norman, Richard; Sayers, Sean. Hegel, Marx, and Dialectic: A Debate. Brighton, Sussex: Harvester Press; Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1980. My review: Dialectics Bout: Richard Norman vs. Sean Sayers.

Pavilionis, Rolandas. Meaning and Conceptual Systems, translated by H. Campbell Creighton. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1990.

Referenced in relation to previous discussions of Quine, Davidson, holism, philosophy of language, et sim.

Philosophy Now, Issue 51, June/July 2005. Logic issue. (Full contents for subscribers.)

Priest, Graham. Beyond the Limits of Thought. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

___________. “Dialectic and Dialetheic,” Science and Society, 1990, 53, 388-415.

___________. “Was Marx a Dialetheist?”, Science and Society, 1991, 54, 468-75.

___________. “Where is Philosophy at the Start of the Twenty-First Century?”,  Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 2003; 103: 85-99.

“This paper sketches an analysis of the development of 20th-century philosophy. Starting with the foundational work of Frege and Husserl, the paper traces two parallel strands of philosophy developing from their work. It diagnoses three phases of development: the optimistic phase, the pessimistic phase, and finally, the phase of fragmentation. The paper ends with some speculations as to where philosophy will go this century.”

Steiner, Mark. The Applicability of Mathematics as a Philosophical Problem. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998. 

Recommended by a discussant.

Van Heijenoort, Jean. “Friedrich Engels and Mathematics” (1948), in Selected Essays (Napoli: Bibliopolis, 1985), pp. 123-151.

Várdy, Peter. “On the Dialectics of Metamathematics” (Excerpts), translated by Marcus Brainard, Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal , vol. 17, nos. 1-2, 1994, pp. 191-216. This text originally appeared as “Zur Dialektik der Metamathematik,” in: Michael John Petry, ed., Hegel und die Naturwissenschaften (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 1987), pp. 205-240.

Zelený, Jindrich. Paraconsistency and Dialectical Consistency [corrected from original, which appeared in From the Logical Point of View (Prague), Vol. 1, 1994, pp. 35 – 51].

Graham Priest, Paraconsistent Logic, and Philosophy, Or, Logic and Reality
by R. Dumain

Graham Priest's Inclosure Schema

Graham Priest vs Erwin Marquit on Contradiction

“On the Dialectics of Metamathematics” (Excerpts) by Peter Várdy

Dialectics Bout: Richard Norman vs. Sean Sayers by R. Dumain

Gaston Bachelard on Surrationalism & a Revolution of Reason

Excursus on Bachelard’s The Philosophy of No (Excerpt)
by Maire Jaanus Kurrik

The Synthetic Value of the “Philosophy of No”
by Gaston Bachelard

Surrationally Yours
by R. Dumain

Philosophy of Paraconsistency & Associated Logics (Web Guide)

Salvaging Soviet Philosophy (1)

Marx and Marxism Web Guide

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Uploaded 8 February 2014

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