Is Logic Absolute? Or Is It Relative to History?

Whenever someone wants to give relativism a knockout blow in an argument, they do one of these two things: they either point out that relativism is self-refuting, or that some things are simply not relative, but absolute. Favorite examples in the latter line of argument include maths and logic. Some things are immutable, unchangeable, and the same for everyone, this argument goes. Beyond the uncertainties proposed by relativism, we know with certainty that 5+5 will always equal 10, and that something cannot be true and false at the same time – a fundamental principle in logic. But what if logic itself was not as absolute as we’d like to think? What if logic were relative – at least to history? Western logic has not always been what it is today – and most likely, it won’t stay the same In this article, philosophy professor Graham Priest, together with Thomas Macaulay Ferguson – both authors of Oxford University Press Dictionary of Logic – laid out the three main stages that marked the evolution of Western logic throughout history: Ancient Greek logic, Medieval logic, and contemporary logic. Ancient logic was itself not unitary. Aristotle is known as the father or logic, but…


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