The Divine Lamp

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Is Logic A Science Or An Art?

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 24, 2009

The Science of Logic
Chapter 2
: General View Of The Nature And Scope Of Logic
Article 9: Is Logic A Science Or An Art?

9.  Is Logic A Science Or An Art?-It is both; or rather there is a Science of logic-a practical science-and an Art of logic.  This, in brief, we consider to e the most satsifactory answer to a disputed question of secondary importance.

A scientific knowledge of any subject-matter is a knowledge of it through its causes, and reasons, and principles, a knowledge of its laws, a systematized, co-ordinated knowledge of it, got by mental application, analysis, demonstration.  Science is speculative if the knowledge is acquired for its own sake and has no immeidate application to practical ends, no immediate influence on conduct, no immediate utility for any ulterior object; it is practical if the knowledge is acquired not so much for its own sake as with a view to using it for some ulterior purpose to which it is immediately applicable: Finis speculativeae, veritas; finis operativae sive practicae, actio.  Manifestly this distinction is not a fundamental one; for, in so far as its springs, not from the motive entertained in studying the science, but from the nature of the knoweldge acquired, it is merely a matter of degree, since all true knowledge has, or can have, some practical influence on external conduct; and furthermore, it is one and the same mind, one and the same reason, that acquires all science, whether speculative or practical; and finally, even the most practical knowledge may be acquired for the sake of its own truth, apart altogether from its ulterior value, and will be, under this aspect, speculative.

An art, according to the ordinary use of the term, is understood to mean a collection of practical rules or canons or precepts for our guidance in the performance of some work, usually external:-facere, faire, to make, machen;-not merely mental-agere,agir, to do, thun.  But it also commonly means practical skill derived from experience in the application of those principals or rules.  The principals themselves are partly the fruit of study-like the truths of science-and partly of actual experience itself.  The main divisions of the arts is that into the fine arts-music painting, sculpture, ect.-and the various mechanical arts and crafts.

Now immediately, logic is a science, for it studies and analyses our mental processes and teaches us a systematized body of truths concerning those processes.  It is even speculative in character, both in so far as  the knowledge yielded by such analysis is desirable for its won sake, and inasmuch as even its practical aim is precisely to secure that very object which all speculative science aims at-knowledge of the truth.  This is St Thomas’ point of view when he writes: “In speculativis alia rationalis scientia est dailectica…et alia scientia demonstrative” (St IIa IIae, q. 51, art. 2, ad. 3).

Since, however, the knowledge acquired, the truths brought to light, by logic, are immediately applicable to the exercise of thought; since they are in the nature of canons for securing correct thought, for avoiding and detecting inaccurate reasoning; since the logician brings them to light from his analysis of thought, not merely for the pleasure of contemplating them, but with a view to using them: is is equally manifest that the science of logic is rather a practical than a speculative science.  its immediate object being distinctly practical, it must be ranked as a practical science.

Finally, is logic not merely a practical sicence but even an art?  In the narrower meaning, which would confine the scope of this term to collections of rules for the execution of external works, logic would not be an art.  but if we extend the terms to those rules which direct even internal, mental activity, we may legitimately call it an art-the art of correct thinking, of accurate reasoning.  That is to say, the discovery and formulation of those rules or canons-which are no less the outcome of experience in thinking than of an analytic study of the processes of thought-would be the practical science of logic; and the application of those rules, the actual reasoning according to those precepts (whether unconsciously or consciously) would be the art of logic.

Every art has some ackground of theoretical truths or principles behind it; every department of external experience has some counterpart or complement of internal, rational study.  The system of practicle rules and laws arrived at by the study of our mental processes was called by the Scholastics Logica Docens-logic in the teaching; the application of those fruits of study for the guidance of those processes, they called Logica Utens-logic in action.~THE SCIENCE OF LOGIC, by Peter Coffey

4 Responses to “Is Logic A Science Or An Art?”

  1. LarryD said

    Because your blog is one of the most intelligent I read, and because you leave great comments at mine, I’ve got an award for you at AoftheA. Keep up the great work!

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