The Logical Aspect of Reality and Thought

Roy Clouser starts our series on good scholarship with a look at the logical aspect of reality.

We often speak of an idea or plan as “logical” using that as a term of praise. What we usually mean is that the idea makes sense or the plan appears a good way to proceed. But the term “logical” is used in philosophy and the sciences to name a specific kind of properties and laws. According to Reformational Philosophy these properties and laws form a distinct aspect of all creation. Let’s start with the most basic laws of logic, the fundamental logical axioms.

The first logical axiom is the law of non-contradiction. It says that nothing can both be and not-be in the same sense at the same time. Most people employ this law without ever having articulated it to themselves. They know that if someone owes them money, it can’t be true both that the money has been repaid and that it has not been repaid. They know that it either was or wasn’t repaid, and that it can’t be both, because of that law. The second logical law is called the law of excluded middle. That means that it must be true that either the money was repaid or it wasn’t, so it can’t be true that it was neither repaid nor not repaid. Finally, there is the axiom of identity. This law says that a thing is itself and not something else. So applied to the money owed, it says that either it is true that the money was repaid and false that it was not, or it is true that it was not repaid and false that it was.

These laws sound so obvious that at first most people think they must be trivial or simple. In fact they are anything but trivial or simple. They can be used to formulate more specific rules that can be applied to arguments in a rigorous way to determine whether arguments are valid or not.

There are also logical characteristics or “properties” that things can possess. Most views of logic think that the only things that can have logical properties are propositions and arguments, and that the only properties propositions can have are being consistent or inconsistent, and the only properties arguments can have are whether they are valid or invalid. This impoverished view is the result of missing the fact that properties can be possessed passively as well as actively. For example, the statements “The money was repaid” and “The money was not repaid” are actively inconsistent. The term “active” means that they have that property whether anyone knows it or not. But they also have such passive properties as being distinguishable and being analyzable – properties that depend on someone to distinguish or analyze them. In this same way all objects of experience, as well as all the kinds of characteristics they exhibit, can also have such passive properties as being able to be distinguished, abstracted, analyzed, and conceptualized.

For these reasons the Reformational philosophy insists that everything in creation has logical properties and is subject to logical law – not just thoughts, ideas, concepts, and theories, but also things, events, persons, relations, and states of affairs in the world around us. On the other hand, this philosophy clearly restricts the scope of logical laws to creatures. Since God is the creator of the logical aspect of the cosmos as well as all its other aspects, those laws may not be applied to Him to prove His existence. Attempting such a proof is subjecting God to the laws He has imposed on creatures, and thus lowers God to creaturely status by subjecting Him to the laws of the cosmos. Thus whatever can be proven would thereby not be God.

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