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Monday, April 11, 2011

0168: Remarks on the Principle of Non-Contradiction (II)

Entry 0168: Remarks on the Principle of Non-Contradiction (II)

Remarks by Richard I. Aaron:

“We use the principle of non-contradiction or consistency long before we become aware of it and of the important part it plays in our thinking.

“No one does try to think without using consistency or non-contradiction as his guide.

“It is our experience of the world that first disposes us to think in terms of non-contradiction and consistency.

“Our experience of the world affects our minds leaving permanent dispositions which explain our thinking.

“The principle of consistency is not alien to that [the real] world; on the contrary, it is something we have learnt from that world itself.

“Even when, in abstract thinking, we find ourselves most removed from experience, there is still a link with the empirical in so far as non-contradiction is our guide. For in so far as it [thinking] is guided by non-contradiction it is guided by a principle which in the last resort is empirically derived.

“We cannot conceive thinking without the principle; more we cannot conceive any item of experience falsifying it.

“This shows the measure to which our experience of the world has moulded our thought. It shows the strength of the dispositions which our experience of the world has engendered within us.” [1]


[1] Richard I. Aaron, "The Rational and the Empirical," in Contemporary British Philosophy, Third Series, London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1956, pp. 3-20.