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Consider Russell’s take on another ‘obvious’ truth: that all humans are mortal: “…there is nothing self-contradictory about an immortal man.We believe the proposition [‘All men are mortal’] on the basis of induction, because there is no well-authenticated case of a man living more than (say) one hundred and fifty years; but this only makes the proposition probable, not certain.
To take two quotes: “If you wish to become a logician, there is one piece of advice which I cannot urge too strongly, and that is: Do NOT learn the traditional formal logic.
In Aristotle’s day, it was a creditable effort, but so was Ptolemaic astronomy.
Modern logic does not preclude perfectly respectable possibilities like immortal humans.
Modern logic strengthens our critical capacities by forcing us to set aside feelings of obviousness as our guide in critical inquiry.
But I am not concerned with delivering justice to Aristotle.
I want to consider what Russell believed about , Russell and his co-author Alfred North Whitehead attempted to create a logically sound basis for mathematics.In it their primitive proposition ∗9.1 implies that at least one individual thing exists.It follows that the universal class of things is not empty. Whitehead and Russell then remark: “This would not hold if there were no instances of anything; hence it implies the existence of something.” ( something, was too bold a commitment for a logician.It cannot be certain so long as living men exist.” ( For Russell, certifying the obvious is not the task of logic.Logic should not dogmatize about the ‘obvious’ because this runs the terrible risk of mistaking the obvious for the true.Modern logic thus enables us to see the truth through the haze of the obvious.As Russell writes, “Thus, while it [modern logic] liberates imagination as to what the world ” (p.19).Where logic ‘proves’ that some real possibility cannot be, we know we have regressed into practicing the misguided traditional logic.Chapter II of Russell’s book is titled ‘Logic as the Essence of Philosophy’.To teach either in the present day is a ridiculous piece of antiquarianism.”( “I conclude that the Aristotelian doctrines with which we have been concerned in this chapter are wholly false, with the exception of the formal theory of the syllogism, which is unimportant.Any person in the present day who wishes to learn logic will be wasting his time if he reads Aristotle or any of his disciples.”( Russell’s criticism was tempered by praise for Aristotle’s achievement in advancing logic beyond what his predecessors had achieved (p.251).