File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1999/bhaskar.9907, message 24

Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1999 12:05:44 +0100
Subject: Re: BHA: logical norms

Hi Ruth,

I think I raised this issue in some of my sections, but Alan Norrie and RB
say something about just this issue in the Essential Readings (pp 564-565);
I don't know if it helps.>

"As regards knowledge, the idea of dialectic as the 'great loosener'
suggests an important nexus between dialectical and analytical reasoning
and dialetical and formal-logical contradiction. Formal-logical
contradictions within analytical thinking may indicate the site of real
dialectical contradictions, for the former are understood as 'real
constituents of the Lebenswelt' that cannot be resolved, pace Hegel,
through the logicising of being. To the contrary, DCR, with its emphasis on
ontological depth and structural causation identifies the common ground in
contradictory propositions, not sublating them, but situating them in
structural and causal contexts in the rythmics of geo-history. This
engenders a dialectic of dialectical and analytical reasoning in which
dialectical reasoning 'overreaches' (rather than transcends) analytical
reasoning. Logical contradictions may be the sign and the site of real
contradictions in the world to be located and explained, thereby pointing
the way forward to the understandings - and the practices - required to
overcome them."

I have a few problems with this. 

First, what exactly is overreaching, as opposed to transcending? However
understood, it seems to be that we are not engaged in a 'real' dialectic
between dialectical and analytical reasoning here, because analytical
reasoning is clearly subordinated to dialectical reasoning; i.e.
dialectical reasoning always has the last word. 

Second, why should we presume that logical contradictions can always be
overcome? In what sense are the statements "it is raining" and "it is not
raining" to be explained and overcome through dialectical reasoning. 

Third, doesn't the presumption that these logical contradictions can be
overcome through the use of dialectical reasoning itself depend upon the
idea that being can be logicised, even if that logicisation is a
dialectical one? 

Fourth, well as I have said before, I'm quite fond of logical
contradictions (as is RB himself - theory-practice inconsistencies as
immanent critique?) as a mode of critique which may not be "overcome", but
which point to fundamental flaws in arguments etc. 

Fifth, since we accept that the social world is concept-dependent shouldn't
we expect to find logical contradictions which can't be overcome, either
through dialectical reasoning or any other? 

Six, I wouldn't worry too much about your admission about reading too many
analytic (straight?) philosophers, isn't the sharp distinction between
dialectical and analytical philosophy a very undialectical move in itself?

Seven, well of course, I accept that the word "may" features heavily, and
in an unspecified way in the quoted para. So it may(be) that I have simply

Cheers, (back to lurking)


Dr. Colin Wight
Department of International Politics
University of Wales
telephone: +44 (0)1970-621769
fax      : +44 (0)1970-622709

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