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Susanne K. Langer on logic as the study of forms and patterns of any sort

Susanne K. Langer on logic as the study of forms and patterns of any sort
Susanne K. Langer on logic as the study of forms and patterns of any sort
In An Introduction to Symbolic Logic, Langer maintains that logic, as the science of forms and patterns, “is to the philosopher what the telescope is to the astronomer: an instrument of vision.” In fact, for Langer logic is an “indispensable tool” for philosophy, and not just because philosophy needs correct reasoning and logic is indeed “an inestimable aid in reasoning.” While it is well-known that Langer was a professed enthusiast of logical analysis and the analytic method in philosophy, her point is more general. Langer stresses that “[a]ll knowledge, all sciences and arts,” philosophy being no exception, have their beginning in the recognition of structures and patterns, which can help us systematize and understand our “rapidly changing, shifting, surprising world.” Hence, philosophy requires a certain ability “to conceive of things in general, to appreciate formal relations” , and logic is a means for philosophers to “see the world in its clear light.” One example, Langer stresses, is that, thanks to the developments of mathematical logic, “infinity has ceased to be a magic word.”
But in the 1920s and 1930s logic for Langer is not just a means, but also “the most elementary, restricted and definite philosophical science.” Hence, logic is a subject of study, which she pursued while claiming that she was presenting philosophical questions “with hesitation, with the discomfort which a mere logician quite properly feels in the presence of philosophical problems.” As a philosophical science, logic is moreover for Langer itself a domain of philosophical investigation, as there are “philosophical problems, which arise directly from logical considerations.”
By being conversant with different logical traditions, Langer’s reflections in logic, and on the philosophical problems logic gives rise to, famously led her to endorse two claims: first, logic should be concerned not only with propositions and propositional forms, as it was then orthodox, but rather with forms for anything that follows a pattern of any sort; second, there is nothing like the logical form of any thing, as any matter can be analyzed as exemplifying radically different forms.
The aim of this paper is to unfold Langer’s main reasons toward these two claims and to show how they stem from considering logic both as a tool for philosophy and as itself a subject of study and philosophical investigation.
63-78
Bloomsbury Publishing
Felappi, Giulia
9c0bc4c5-5547-434e-8bbd-0c785bece1bc
Gaikis, Lona
Felappi, Giulia
9c0bc4c5-5547-434e-8bbd-0c785bece1bc
Gaikis, Lona

Felappi, Giulia (2024) Susanne K. Langer on logic as the study of forms and patterns of any sort. In, Gaikis, Lona (ed.) Bloomsbury Handbook of Susanne K. Langer. Bloomsbury Publishing, pp. 63-78. (doi:10.5040/9781350294660.ch-4).

Record type: Book Section

Abstract

In An Introduction to Symbolic Logic, Langer maintains that logic, as the science of forms and patterns, “is to the philosopher what the telescope is to the astronomer: an instrument of vision.” In fact, for Langer logic is an “indispensable tool” for philosophy, and not just because philosophy needs correct reasoning and logic is indeed “an inestimable aid in reasoning.” While it is well-known that Langer was a professed enthusiast of logical analysis and the analytic method in philosophy, her point is more general. Langer stresses that “[a]ll knowledge, all sciences and arts,” philosophy being no exception, have their beginning in the recognition of structures and patterns, which can help us systematize and understand our “rapidly changing, shifting, surprising world.” Hence, philosophy requires a certain ability “to conceive of things in general, to appreciate formal relations” , and logic is a means for philosophers to “see the world in its clear light.” One example, Langer stresses, is that, thanks to the developments of mathematical logic, “infinity has ceased to be a magic word.”
But in the 1920s and 1930s logic for Langer is not just a means, but also “the most elementary, restricted and definite philosophical science.” Hence, logic is a subject of study, which she pursued while claiming that she was presenting philosophical questions “with hesitation, with the discomfort which a mere logician quite properly feels in the presence of philosophical problems.” As a philosophical science, logic is moreover for Langer itself a domain of philosophical investigation, as there are “philosophical problems, which arise directly from logical considerations.”
By being conversant with different logical traditions, Langer’s reflections in logic, and on the philosophical problems logic gives rise to, famously led her to endorse two claims: first, logic should be concerned not only with propositions and propositional forms, as it was then orthodox, but rather with forms for anything that follows a pattern of any sort; second, there is nothing like the logical form of any thing, as any matter can be analyzed as exemplifying radically different forms.
The aim of this paper is to unfold Langer’s main reasons toward these two claims and to show how they stem from considering logic both as a tool for philosophy and as itself a subject of study and philosophical investigation.

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Accepted/In Press date: 18 May 2023
e-pub ahead of print date: 2024
Published date: 2024

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Local EPrints ID: 478370
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/478370
PURE UUID: f9ca7a52-9070-44aa-a61e-06a89aeb002d
ORCID for Giulia Felappi: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-0110-6371

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Date deposited: 29 Jun 2023 16:42
Last modified: 23 Jul 2024 01:49

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Author: Giulia Felappi ORCID iD
Editor: Lona Gaikis

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