Volume 16, 2008
Kant’s General Logic and Aristotle
In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant uses the term “logic” in a bewildering variety of ways, at times making it close to impossible to determine whether he is referring to (among others) general logic, transcendental logic, transcendental analytic, a "special" logic relative to a specific science, a "natural" logic, a logic intended for the "learned" (Gelehrter), some hybrid of these logics, or even some still-more abstract notion that ranges over all of these uses. This paper seeks to come to grips with Kant's complex use of "logic." Kant is standardly regarded as saying that since Aristotle, there need be no more concern about logic as a discipline or a field of study, and that Aristotle (with some minor embellishments, in terms of presentation) is the last word in logic. I argue here that, in spite of
Hegel, Peirce, Strawson, and others, one must take into consideration Kant’s sophisticated critique of Aristotle’s logic in order to see Kant’s own conception of logic in contrast to that of Aristotle’s. In this way, Kant's strategy in the First Critique—grounded as it is in logic—becomes more plausible, defensible, and, consequently, more attractive.