The development of an analytic tradition in philosophy is bound up with a newly intensified interest in logic, and Frege’s development of a new form of logical notation — an early form of what is now called predicate logic — is one of the conditions that made that tradition possible. At the same time, the development of analytic philosophy is also tied to a turn away from what had until that time been a natural and often mutually beneficial exchange with poetry, drama, and fiction. It is easy to assume that the turn away from literature is a necessary consequence of the turn to logic. This essay argues that in fact there are good reasons to think that if we follow the turn to formal logic through, it instead pushes philosophy back into a transformed and perhaps deeper kind of conversation with literature. The terms that organize this renewed conversation are those of a shared preoccupation not with certain ideas or content but with the power of form. The upshot is that the turn to formal logic returns philosophy to a transformed version of the “ancient quarrel” with which it began.
The Turn to Logic and the Transformation of an Ancient Quarrel
Kristin Boyce is assistant professor of philosophy and Faculty Fellow in the Shackouls Honors College at Mississippi State University. She received a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Chicago in 2010. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including an ACLS New Faculty Fellowship, a postdoctoral fellowship from Stanford University, and a Josephine De Karmán Dissertation Fellowship. In Spring 2020, she will be a residential fellow at New York University’s Center for Ballet and Arts. She is the 2019 Mississippi State University Humanities Teacher of the Year.
Kristin Boyce; The Turn to Logic and the Transformation of an Ancient Quarrel. Poetics Today 1 March 2020; 41 (1): 83–100. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-7974100
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