Has Aristotle Been Disproven? Part 2

Here’s part 1.

The second sense in which some people – Hegelians, Marxists and their spawn, mostly – seem to think Aristotle has been disproven is this: that Aristotle’s constant use of and insistence on classical logic and discrete observation demonstrates that he has been passed by by History. We now have better ways to understand the world, ways that supersede Aristotle’s rigid and limiting insistence on logic.

Early on in Hegel’s Science of Logic, he points out that, while other sciences had clearly progressed since the time of Aristotle, logic had, if anything, decayed over the previous 2,000 years since first formalized by Aristotle. Therefore, he – Hegel – was going to do us the service of bringing it up to date.

Bringing logic up to date meant disparaging and discarding it entirely, and substituting Hegelian ontology for it.  Logic, for Hegel, is how the true philosopher sees the unfolding of the Spirit through History in all its concrete reality and manifest contradictions. It has nothing to do with formal rules.

If one wants to know the truth, one does not use logic to dissect and synthesize the bits of information we receive through our senses to gradually build up and refine our understanding of reality. Instead, one must grasp the totality of what is to be understood directly, and not allow such trivia as violations of the Law of Non-contradiction to dissuade us. In fact, the use of logic and insistence on its rules is the sure sign that one is among the little people, like hard scientists and mathematicians (and computer programmers), who may be useful, but are never going to learn the truly-true truth about anything. Logic and math get their force – their certainty – by being totally abstract. They are convincing and ‘true’ only to the degree to which they lack all concrete content.

Something like that. The important point is not to understand Hegel’s method – given the various schools and infighting among people who claim to follow Hegel, it’s possible that there is no understanding it in any event – but to grasp the key point: Aristotle has been disproven! Therefore, etc.

Being declared obsolete does not equal being disproven. In fact, a curious aspect of Hegel’s approach is that he does not permit himself to use argument, because to do so is to avail himself of the tools of  Aristotle that he just got done dismissing. But if argument is disallowed, then how can anything be disproven? You can say your opponent lacks insight, is possessed of false consciousness, or is unenlightened, but there’s no proving anything in any traditionally understood meaning of ‘prove’.

Key point: if you want to say that Hegel has disproven Aristotle, then you must also dismiss as trivial all of science, math and technology. Which is done – by people who go ahead and drive their cars and balance their checkbooks.


Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

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