Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The excluded and included middle

From the archive.

In this post I discussed Graham Priest's article on Buddhist logic, which argues around Aristotle's excluded middle. The latter is prerequisite to the claim of performative contradiction, whereas Priest's Buddhist logic doesn't accept that premise. Priest's logic is what he calls paraconsistent, and I of course twist and fold it even further to show how their is an ultimate truth, but not in the metaphysical sense.

Accepting the excluded middle is a hallmark of formal operations with its bivalent either/or, and in that sense is 'metaphysical.' Postformal dialectics of the kind Priest discusses goes 'postmetaphysical' in that sense, while still making metaphysical (ontological) claims as to the nature of reality. I've also weaved this into Lakoff's work on embodied realism in various threads (especially real/false reason), another story, but 'on topic' to this thread.

You'll have to read the linked Priest article on Buddhist logic. It's only a contradiction to formal logic that accepts the excluded middle. Recall in Wilber's intro to the fourth turning the 4-fold Buddhist logic: something is, is not, is both, is neither. And used it to justify nonconceptual direct experience as the answer. Priest does a far better job on explaining this. Interestingly, and more than just a pun, it's no accident that Madhyamaka is called the 'middle' way.* It's between conceptual and nonconceptual, absolute and relative etc. in how it mediates these same/differences. Like Desilet and Derrida, not coincidentally.

Or that Lakoff's image schema are in the 'middle' of classical hierarchies, thereby changing the naive set theory and false reason upon which mathematical models of hierarchical complexity are founded. The latter have the same metaphysical notions of you're either in or out of a category, hence the hierarchy has a lowest concrete particular and a highest generalization that are bivalent and disconnected (or 'transcended and included'). Image schema are the middle foundation for both, another form of embodied middle way not caught in formal performative contradictions. Lakoff & Johnson do an excellent job in Philosophy of the Flesh on how this (formal) false reasoning was the foundation for much of western philosophy and metaphysics. (Eastern too, but they didn't address that.) It's so ingrained in us from the start that we cannot even see it.

*The Prasangika Madhyamaka is broadly defined by two camps: Tsongkhapa and Gorampa. See The Two Truths Debate by Thakchoe in the Batchelor thread. This debate is pivotal to the connection between metaphysical (false) and postmetaphysical (real) reasoning.

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