Part Four

Modes of Thought

Section 1


Chapter 1

The different kinds of thought

Well, then, where are we? The promise early in the First Part that we would discuss what it meant to be a being who had conscious factual knowledge has been in part redeemed; in the fourth chapter of the fourth section of the third part 3.4.4 we saw what this implied for the life of the human being.

But we have still not discussed the different types of factual knowledge we have, and how this information is arranged so that we can derive new relations from those we have already seen; and that is what this part is about.

This part really has two aspects: the different avenues through which we get information (distinguishing mysticism, perceptual experience, and esthetic knowledge) and various ways in which we arrange this information so as to understand new facts based on it.

This latter, of course, is called reasoning, and the rules for arranging data so that new facts emerge is called a logic. What is ordinarily called "logic" or "formal logic" is actually the logic of statements, or linguistic expressions of perceptually based facts; but there are many other logics--in fact, there is a unique logic, really, for every discipline that deals in any kind of factual information. Insofar as this information is translatable into perceptually based factual statements, then the laws of formal logic apply; but each discipline has its own special rules for arranging data, and it does not follow that the logic of the statements that describe what it is doing is the same as the logic of how it is actually handling the information.

That is, I don't think that mathematics is a kind of subset of formal logic, any more than the logic of physics is a subset of mathematics, even though physics uses mathematics and mathematics uses statements. I think that people most often misunderstand a discipline, in fact, when they try to translate its logic into a different kind of logic that they are familiar with--which is one reason, I suspect, why so many have difficulty with mathematics. Actually, if a person can grasp what the logic is of the particular discipline he is studying, he can know more of it faster than the person who knows many many more of the details. But I may be saying this, of course, may be because I know so few of the details about anything.

In any case, in subsequent sections, we will see a little bit of certain classes of logics.