Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Western vs. Eastern logic

In Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant explains the Hindu system of logic. Like categorical logic in the Aristotelian system, Hindu logic recognizes the central place of the middle term, but the structure in its stated form is slightly different. Whereas the Aristotelian system contains only three premises:
(1) All men are mortal
(2) Socrates is a man
(3) Therefore, Socrates is mortal
The Hindu expression of the argument contains five statements:
(1) Socrates is mortal
(2) For he is a man
(3) All men are mortal
(4) Socrates is a man
(5) Therefore Socrates is mortal
Now there is nothing fundamentally different about the nature of the reasoning in these respective forms; the only difference is in the expression. Note that the first and fifth statements in the Hindu syllogism are the same, as are the second and fourth. All the Hindu syllogism does is to state at the beginning where the argument is going and bring attention to the minor premise. It is really an enthymeme of the Aristotelian form appended to the beginning.

There is a lot of talk about how different Eastern logic is from Western, but if there is a difference, it certainly isn't evident here.

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