20th World Congress of Philosophy Logo

Philosophy of Law

Logic and Law in Russian and Western Culture

Galina Sorina
Moscow State Pedagogical University

bluered.gif (1041 bytes)

ABSTRACT: The purpose of my paper is to compare those texts of Russian and Western thinkers where the relations between logic and law are discussed, and especially to show both the differences and the agreements of their understanding of this connection. Second, I would also like to show and contrast the place of logic and law in Russian and Western systems of education. Third, I propose to clarify some conclusions from my analysis of these relations for understanding the social life of a country and its culture. I believe that this is possible since the relations between logic and law, which are a special subject-matter, are only a part of a larger whole. There is no hard and fast line separating the place of these relationships from the whole of culture. The quality of this relationship is an indicator in some sense of the nature of culture and of its democracy. I would like to show with regard to the West that the classical logical culture determines the types of rationalities, argumentation patterns, and various kinds of political and juridical rhetorics. The consequences of the lack of logical culture in Russia will also be shown.

bluered.gif (1041 bytes)

The purpose of my paper is very simple. It is, first of all, to compare those texts of Russian and Western thinkers where the relations between Logic and Law are discussed, and especially to show both the differences and the agreements in their understanding of this connection. Second, the same time I would like to show and contrast the places of Logic and Law in the Russian and Western Systems of Education. Third, I propose to clarify some conclusions from analysis these relations for understanding the social life of a country and its culture. I believe that this is possible since the relations between Logic and Law, which are a special subject-matter, are only a part of a larger whole. I believe that there is no hard and fast line separating the place of these relationships from the whole of Culture. And vice versa, as I see it, the quality of this relationship is an indicator (in some sense) of the nature of Culture and of its Democracy.

I am not going to say that all of Western History depends on Logic, (1) but I think it is very important to pick out its real and very influential place in Western Law and Democracy which have not been separated from Western Philosophy. I should like to show with regard to the West that starting from Ancient Civilization one can find how the classical Logical Culture determines the types of rationalities, argumentation patterns, various kinds of political and juridical rhetorics, and therefore political and juridical culture in general. I think that this tradition has not been interrupted in the modern West because it has been supported by the classical Western Educational system with the famous Trivium (grammar, rhetoric, logic) as its base during centuries of development.

The logic-based Trivium fulfilled a definitive role with regard to the Western System of Education and, as a result, to the complex consequences that formed the whole of Culture. It can be easily confirmed by a many educational and historical documents: educational programs, philosophical and pedagogical treatises, logical groundworks in Theology with, for example, "the logical attitude of the epoch of St. Thomas Aquinas" (2) and so on. These documents have always been well known, but also they are being supplemented, or rediscovered in our days.

By way of example, after more than 500 years effectively lost, the works of Richard Rufus of Cornwall are returning to Western Culture. The investigator of Rufus's archive has shown, that "knowing the works of Richard Rufus is crucial to our understanding of the origins of Western philosophy and natural science". (3) It is because, according to Rega Wood, "the works Rufus wrote as a secular philosopher are the beginning of the modern university traditions of philosophy and natural science". (4) Rufus was one of those, who had formed "medieval Western intellectual life". He taught at the University of Paris and did so as critic of Aristotle. In this, he also taught his students to take a critical and strong approach to any texts. It is necessary to point out that in the 13th century, undergraduate education focused on the seven liberal arts. The first three arts were derived from the Logical Trivium which was followed by "arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music". (5)

As it is well known, Logic as a special subject-matter, was created by Aristotle. From that time, according to the accurate remark by Kant, "it has not been required to retrace a single step, unless, indeed, we care to count as improvements the removal of certain needless subtleties or the clearer exposition of its recognised teaching, features which concern the elegance rather than the certainty of the science". (6) I think that it is possible to add to Kant's remark that from Aristotle's time Logic became the foundation of the System of Education. So, it is no surprise that one can find attacks on Aristotle's view of Logic or effort to reconstruct logic at almost every step of development of education, along with a close connection with the rest of Culture.

At the same time, I suppose, that every serious modification, indeed "distruction" of Aristotle's Logic had been for the sake of a construction of another type of Logic, but meanwhile it was still the construction of Logic. Further, every step of the criticism of Aristotle's Logic was taken according to tools of the very same Aristotelian Logic; and, in this sense, to my mind, every step of criticism was only a step of additional development of Aristotle's ideas. This is correct, I believe, as much for the actual inner logical resources as for Philosophy of Logic. The Port-Royal Logic, which was the most influential logic from the middle of the 17th century to the end of the 19th century, can illustrate the first part of my statement, and Kant's Logic — the second. However, my position needs to be clarified with regard to both of these contexts.

In the context of inner logical resources, it is not importance, whether we speak about Aristotelian or non-Aristotelian Logic. I can illustrate my position by another analogy: non- Euclidean Geometry is very different from Euclidean Geometry, but, first, it was a development of Geometry and, second, it was possible because the first had been Euclid's Geometry. Otherwise the problems of the inner development of geometry are exactly analogous with those of Logic.

The next context, which is needed to be clarified, is the context of my use of the notion of "Philosophy of Logic". To be very brief, I think that this notion has to be in use not only to mark the complex of philosophical problems around the inner development of Logic and its application but also about presence and role of Logic in Culture.

Thus I hope that we may understand that Kant's Logic combines some elements of Traditional Logic with Philosophy of Logic and has deep connection with his own Philosophy as whole in all its parts. To my mind, Kant's Logic could not be apart from his style of thinking and his Philosophy, not only because he taught Logic for forty years, but because of his Transcendental Logic, which differs from Traditional Formal Logic, while also it remains Logic. I think that Kant's teaching courses of Logic could be called Philosophy of Logic because Kant discusses there theoretical and practical questions of Reason, the role of Logic in the sciences, business and everyday life. It is his "Logic", where Kant discusses the structure of Philosophy. He told his students there: "If we regard philosophy as the complex of several sciences, then first we want to look at the 7 so-called liberal arts: (1.) grammar, (2.) rhetoric, (3.) dialectic, (4.) arithmetic, (5.) music, (6.) geometry, (7.) astronomy". (7)

Kant taught in his Logic "the method of learned cognition" in every sphere. Meantime, to my mind, his Logic, as a matter of fact, is the comprehensive Logical Trivium. One can find in Kant's Logic "the methods of the learned man",the "use of words', "a style of writing", "learned speech", "learned writings" and last the character of theleaned man" himself. (8)

I suppose that it was Kant, who returned the practical aspect of Logic, which had existed before Aristotle, to it as teaching subject. I hope that Logic really had existed before Aristotle but without his strong roles and, may be, it was in interrogative form more than in the affirmative one. It was practical logic as dialectic. To Kant, practical logic is only a part , but really there is also the technical part of logic, which "would be a logical art in regard to order and to logical terms of art and logical distinction, to make it easier for the understanding to act". (9)

Kant's courses of Logic help us to understand the place of Logic in the System of Education. In some sense they could be seen as a key to his Philosophy of Law and so as a key to great many conceptions of the Law because "the great jurists have always drawn directly or indirectly on what philosophers such as Aristotle, Aquinas, Leibniz, Kant, and Hegel have written on the law". (10) In the context of this paper it is important to stress that for Kant, legal thinking is only one concrete form of thinking, while "logic is the science of the universal rules for the use of the intellect". (11)

There are a many examples of the acknowledgment of Logic in formation of different sciences in Western intellectual history. For example, it is very interesting to note the position of Adam Smith. (12) But it seems to me that one can discover the most full description of the place of Logic in intellectual life and the educational system as given by Charles Peirce . He represented it in his 'The 1903 Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism' where he proposed to understand Logic as "the matter of a liberal education". In particular Peirce proposed, that "a liberal education ought to be a living organism and logic may truly be said to be the heart of it". (13)

Moreover, in his Lectures he gave an example of the coordination between Logic and the other subjects during the course of an education. He said in his 'Lecture Two', that if he were to have a purpose of giving somebody a liberal education in 100 lessons, he would devote this course in such proportion as follows:

50 lessons - to teaching of any concrete business;

3 lessons - mathematics;

2 lessons - ethics;

1 lesson - law and per one the other applied sciences.

Finally, Peirce asserted that "the remaining 36 should be devoted to logic". Then and only then, according to Peirce, can somebody become a professional, because it was Logic which gave "the ability to think well". (14)

There is quite another situation in Russia where there were no such traditions, where Logic has never been a part of the Educational System. It was possible to find, from the 18th Century, after Peter I's reforms, the Western (German) System of Education there. While Russia took this system as a model for its own system, nevertheless it was without such roots for undergraduate education as the Logical Trivium: Rhetoric, Grammar and Logic. From these three only grammar was really studied in Russia. There were no teachers, and no textbooks in Logic, and there was no mentality open to this subject in Russia. So in Peirce's sense, it was impossible to have "a liberal education in Russia".

In this context it is indeed necessary, to remember Peter Chaadaev, the famous Russian philosopher of the 19th century (1794-1856). Chaadaev had already written about differences of Europe and Russia in their Intellectual Histories. In fact his understanding of the proper place of Logic in the Educational System is in agreement with Peirce's view.

Chaadaev asserted that the peoples of Europe had not only a common history and psychology but they had something common as "the very physiology" of European man. The meaning of this notion included, for Chaadaev, the ideas prevail in society. These were firstly the ideas of Christianity, duty, justice, right, and order and secondly the possibility to connect them together. Chaadaev noted that he was speaking not of intellectual problems of intellectuals but of wider contact with other minds in society. He was very pessimistic about his own country when he stated that in his country people had nothing to put in the place of such an atmosphere of the West. He saw only the strange situation in Russia where persons did not have any logic, nor any aptitudes for carrying out any connected sequence of ideas. Chaadaev expressed his position in his "First Letter on the Philosophy of History". His position is very strong and pessimistic: "...we all lack a certain assurance, a certain method in our thinking, a certain logic. The syllogism of the West is unknown to us... There are absolutely no general notions in our heads... ". He did not think that people in Russia had only moral faults and Western people had only moral correctness. He only wanted to stress that Law and Order required a general spirit and general notions, and only in this sense for Logic. (15)

Really, Logic, in some sense, is an instrument for producing Reason, discipline, a complex of common definition, agreements for the formation of the system of thinking. It is the Logical Trivium which helped to form a common intellectual basis for human community. But all these work out only in collaboration with the System of Education. The top of this system is the University, which has the task, as it has been written by Alfred North Whitehead, of "the creation of the future, so far as rational thought". (16)

Unfortunately, there was only a brief period, at the end of the 19th century and the begin of the 20th century (all elements of classical humanist education were excluded from the proletarian school system in Russia after 1917), when Logic was taught in Russia, detailed enough and widely. At the same time it was a period when letters were written to the Ministry of Education of Russia with the demand to ban teaching Logic as a subject which led to free thinking. I think that all these positions in understanding of role of Logic in the educational system are close but the conclusions are very different.

Meantime even now it is possible to learn Logic (formal, informal, practical, classical and so on) or subjects which are close to Logic, for example Rhetoric, Theory of Argumentation and so on, only in a limited number of Russian higher educational institutions and exclusively in undergraduate education. I hope that it is possible now to speak about fundamental research in the sphere of logic but still not about a system of logical education in Russia. This is one of the reasons why Russian Lawyers have almost not at all seen the connection between Logic and Law, or the educational nature of Logic for law.

In a similar way it is possible to talk about breaking down the barrier between practical education and theory in Russion Law. There are many scholarly juridical investigations there, but they are not built into the Russian System of Education. It could be said that it was almost a Russian tradition to separate a theory from a practice, knowledge from act.

A critique of such a tradition in the context of the Russian Legal System was expressed in full measure by one well known Russian Lawyer, the editor of the 'Juridical Messenger' and Professor of Law B. Kistyakovsky who wrote, that "we did, of course, have scholarly judicial investigations, but they were always the exclusive domain of specialists"; that "law faculties have been formed at all our universities...but not one of the holders of these chairs has ever produced even a legal study, to say nothing of a book, that had broad public sigificance...". (17) He did it at the beginning of this century, but I believe, that all the problems, which were marked by Kistyakovsky, have only increased in the subsequent period of Russian History.

I suppose that the consequences of the lack of Logical Culture in Russia may be shown. In particular, as I see it, it leads to a lack of rational forms of Political and Legal Culture, the destruction of political and legal argumentation and, as a result, to misunderstanding of many forms of the relationships between citizen and state in Modern Russia, mainly to a lack of Law and Order. It is so because Logic, mentioned above, was one of the main instrument of rationality, to be installed in the philosophical and teaching tradition in a country.

We know that the Western Philosophical Tradition, together with a regular Teaching Tradition, covers about 2500 years. But almost all independent Russian Philosophical traditions, come from the last two hundred years. As to the regular Russian teaching traditions, I suppose it is possible to speak only about some common features and at the same time about a number of directions which were very varied in the religious schools, in the others of the humanities areas and in the natural sciences. I shall refer to a fundamental difference in the teaching attitude between Russia and the West with regard to the Logical Trivium in its connection with Law.

Meanwhile the Western models of the Legal System, (18) as for example Austin's imperative theory or Hart's concept of Law, have also had a teaching aim: to help learn (in wide sense of this word) to understand these conceptions and to connect them with other books in this area . They have clearly declared this to be the aim of their works. Moreover according to Austin "Logic is absolutely necessary" for the training of Lawyers. (19)

So the idea of such comparative analysis, which has been initiated here, is really simple but I understand neither the professional logicions nor professional lawyers have thought about these relations in order to examine their mutual context. For me, this abstract is only a part of more general project on correlations between Logic and Culture in the West and in Russia. (20)

bluered.gif (1041 bytes)


(1) It was Erich Fromm who pointed to the domination of Logic in Western Culture. He wrote, that "since Aristotle, the Western world has followed the logical principles of Aristotelian philosophy", that axioms of Aristotelian Logic have deeply imbued Western habits of thought, that in the end "the Aristotelian standpoint led to dogma and science, to the Catholic Church, and to the discovery of atomic energy". See E. Fromm, The Art of Loving, Perennial Library, New York, San Francisco, London (1974), pp.61-67.

(2) See A.N. Whitehead, "Analysis of Meaning", in: Science and Philosophy, The Wisdom Library, New York (1948), p. 140.

(3) Rega Wood, "The Rufus Project", An unpublished NEH proposal, July 1997.

(4) Ibid.

(5) Ibid.

(6) See I. Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, St. Martin's Press, New York (1965), p.17.

(7) See I. Kant, Lectures on Logic, (P. Guyer, A. W. Wood, ed.) Cambridge University Press (1992), p. 437.

(8) Ibid., pp. 235-246.

(9) Ibid., p. 532.

(10) See M. R. Cohen Reason and Law, The Free Press, Glencoe, Illinois (1950), p.1.

(11) See Kant (1992), p. 253

(12) See A. Smith, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Letters, Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd, London (1963), pp.175-176.

(13) See Ch. S. Peirce, "Pragmatism as a Principle and Method of Right Thinking". The 1903 Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism, (P.A. Turrisi, ed.) State University of New York Press, Albany (1997), p. 123.

(14) Ibid., p. 123.

(15 See P.I. Chaadaev, 'Letters on the Philosophy of History. First Letter', in: Russian Intellectual History an Anthology, New York (1966), pp. 165-166.

(16) See A. N. Whitehead, Modes of Thought, The Macmillan Company, New York (1938), p. 233.

(17) See B. Kistyakovsky, "In the Defense of Law: The Intelligentsia and Legal Consciousness" in: Shragin B., Todd A. (ed.),. Landmarks A Collection on the Russian Intelligentsia, Karz, publishers (1977), pp.113, 115.

(18) It should be noted that Western Law is deeply divided between Anglo-American and Continental European tradition. Nevertheless I shall not touch this division in the paper, which deals most of all with the philosophical aspect of the problem for which both of them are very close.

(19) See J. Austin, Lectures on Jurisprudence or The Philosophy of Positive Law, London (1869), pp. 1122-1123.

(20) This wide investigation (with I. Griftsova) is supported by the Russian Foundation for Fundamental Investigation (1997-1998); it was also supported by the Soros Foundation (1994-1996). The theme of the abstract is supported by the Soros Foundation and Remarque Institute of New York University during my Fellowship here in summer 1997.

bluered.gif (1041 bytes)


Back to the Top

20th World Congress of Philosophy Logo

Paideia logo design by Janet L. Olson.
All Rights Reserved


Back to the WCP Homepage