Clashing Symbols by Peter Kreeft

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Clashing Symbols

The Loss of Aristotelian Logic & the Social, Moral & Sexual Consequences
by Peter Kreeft

When I started teaching logic, in 1962, most of the textbooks taught traditional Aristotelian logic rather than the (then still fairly new) "symbolic logic," also called "mathematical logic" or "propositional calculus." Forty years later, there are only two full-length texts of traditional Aristotelian logic in print. One of them is my own recently published logic textbook, Socratic Logic (St. Augustine's Press), from which much of the middle part of this article is taken. All the other logic texts, over 500 of them, teach symbolic logic, or else informal logic (rhetoric).

By the 1970s, most of the English-speaking philosophical establishment had cast in its lot with "analytic philosophy" and the symbolic logic that was its methodological complement. I still vividly remember the reaction of outrage, fear, and loathing that came from that establishment when Henry Veatch published his attack on the new logic (The Two Logics). The book was a bit verbose, bombastic, and intemperate, but it possessed the three most important (and most rare) qualities any book of philosophy should have: it was interesting, it was rational, and it was right. That's why the establishment "went postal." People will forgive you for being wrong, but they will never forgive you for being right.

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