Dimensions of the Logical

A Hermeneutic Inquiry

by Friedrich Hogemann (Author)
©2016 Monographs 378 Pages


Drawing on the work of Georg Misch, this work seeks to give back to the Word its original fullness of meaning. Misch’s notion of a logic of life considers the Word in the plenitude of its great powers. The question of life leads the inquiries undertaken in this study via Misch’s anthropological conception on to the phenomenological ontology of Martin Heidegger and Josef Koenig’s investigation of ‘Being and Thought’. Heidegger’s quest for the meaning of Being calls for a close inspection of its linguistic foundation. ‘Being’ reveals itself as the original truth. It is the verbum demonstrativum in its verbal form. Solely to Indo-European languages is this form immanent. Thus, the established basis may be the starting point from which to reconsider the question of tradition as well as constructs of higher levels.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Part One. Introduction to the hermeneutic logic of Georg Misch
  • Section One. Hermeneutic logic in Misch’s ‘The Construction of logic based on the philosophy of life’
  • Chapter 1. The extension ‘from within itself’ of the concept of traditional logic
  • Introduction
  • § 1. The connection between logical form and knowledge of essence according to Aristotle and its subsequent abandonment
  • § 2. Traditional logic and logistic
  • § 3. The Relevance of Goethe to Misch’s Hermeneutic Logic
  • § 4. John Stuart Mill’s opposition to the prevailing logic
  • § 5. The need for a dismantling of logical absolutism
  • Chapter 2. The question of the systematic position of logic
  • Introduction
  • § 1. Speech as Spielraum for ‘right’, ‘true’, ‘good’ and ‘evil’
  • § 2. Dilthey’s stance regarding Christianity according to Georg Misch
  • § 3. The word as deed
  • § 4. Critique of the Platonising conception of language
  • § 5. The original meaning of ‘concept’
  • § 6. The originally creative act of name-giving
  • § 7. The embodiedness of the word
  • § 8. The significance of Wilhelm von Humboldt’s philosophy of language for Misch’s hermeneutic logic
  • Chapter 3. The impossibility of a regional demarcation of the logical, and the problem of the universality of logic
  • Introduction
  • § 1. Formal logic and dialectic
  • § 2. Exposition and critique of Misch’s conception of logical ontology
  • § 3. The importance of Kant for Misch’s hermeneutic logic
  • § 4. Continuation. Dilthey’s philosophy of life as conversion of Kantian transcendental philosophy into anthropology in Misch’s account
  • § 5. What is meant by an overturning of metaphysics? To what extent is a dialogue between Heidegger and Misch possible?
  • Chapter 4. The systematic engagement with expression
  • § 1. The world of expression as objectivation of life
  • § 2. The origin and meaning of ‘understanding’
  • § 3. Grammar, logic and metagrammar
  • § 4. The expressive movements of humans, and of beasts
  • § 5. Expression as symbol
  • § 6. The unassertable and the ineffable
  • Section Two. From elementary to higher level behaviour
  • Chapter 1. Miens, signals and gestures
  • § 1. Affects and signs
  • § 2. Expressive movements as meaningful
  • Chapter 2. Life categories and existentials
  • Introduction
  • § 1. The meaning of ‘theory’ according to Misch and Heidegger
  • a) Misch
  • b) Heidegger
  • c) Retrospect
  • § 2. Life-categories
  • § 3. What is meant by ‘situation’?
  • § 4. Interest-free and interest-taking acts
  • § 5. Behaviour as anticipatory
  • § 6. ‘Understanding’ in Being and Time and Misch’s stance in relation to it
  • § 7. Mood and its relation to understanding.
  • Chapter 3. From the behaviour of living beings to higher level structures
  • Introduction
  • § 1. Pointing
  • § 2. Demonstratives and names
  • § 3. ‘Something as something’ in Being and Time and the question of hermeneutics
  • Chapter 4. Modes of hermeneutic discourse: evocation (Misch) and formal indication (Heidegger)
  • Introduction
  • § 1. Evocation in Misch’s account
  • § 2. Regions of evocative speech
  • § 3. The meaning of ‘hermeneutic’ according to Heidegger
  • § 4. Formal indication according to Heidegger
  • Chapter 5. Georg Misch’s Conception of ‘world’, ‘environment’ and ‘sphere of operation’
  • § 1. The wording of the world
  • § 2. The concept of central unification and the interpretativity of the word
  • § 3. Fundamentals for the problem of the organism in its environment
  • Section Three. Remarks on Georg Misch’s works The Way into Philosophy and Philosophy of Life and Phenomenology
  • Chapter 1. ‘The Way into Philosophy’
  • § 1. Presentation
  • § 2. Critical evaluation
  • Chapter 2. Georg Misch’s critique of Heidegger in Philosophy of Life and Phenomenology and Heidegger’s metacritique
  • § 1. The encounter between Heidegger and Misch in its historical context
  • § 2. On the Preface (LPh, pp. III f.)
  • § 3. ‘...the nerve of the undertaking...’
  • § 4. Being and Time
  • § 5. Philosophy of life versus ontology
  • § 6. The distinctive metaphysical mark of philosophy and the fulfilment of philosophy in life – beyond life
  • § 7. The enlightenment character of philosophy. Misch’s question about the provenance and limits of ontology
  • § 8. ‘Eternal happening’ against ‘indirect experience’ and the problem of the concept of the hermeneutic
  • § 9. The problem of being as nihilating transcendence
  • § 10. ‘Ontological difference’ in Georg Misch’s critique
  • Part Two. Being, world and happening (hayah)
  • Section One. A linguistic consideration of ‘to be’
  • Chapter 1. The etymology and meaning of ‘to be’
  • Introduction
  • § 1. The three roots of ‘to be’ and of its derivative words
  • § 2. ‘to be’ and truth
  • § 3. ‘...to see whether something is true...’
  • § 4. Archaic and free Logos
  • Chapter 2. The Function of the verb ‘to be’ in sentences
  • § 1. Exposition of the interrogation to be conducted in this chapter
  • § 2. The function of the nominal sentence in Indo-European
  • § 3. The verb ‘to be’ in use
  • Chapter 3. The Grammar of the Verb ‘to be’
  • § 1. Orientation
  • § 2. The ‘copulative’ use of ειμι
  • § 3. The ‘existential’ use of ειμι
  • § 4. The veritative use of ειμι
  • § 5. The meaning of ‘to live’ and the step from the grammatical to the transcendental mode of reflection
  • § 6. The incompleteness of the available analyses
  • Section Two. ‘To be’ as transcendens. Philosophy and non-philosophy
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. Modifying and determining predication according to Josef König
  • § 1. The distinction between modifying and determining predication
  • § 2. ‘Impression of...’ and principle of consciousness
  • § 3. Transcendentality and doxa. Introduction to the following subsections
  • § 4. The procedure of transcendental predication. The questionability of the fundamental-ontological account
  • § 5. Transcendentals, in particular modifying predicates, in praxis
  • § 6. The sphere of determining predication. The fore-concept of de-animation
  • § 7. The concealment of the structure of modifying predication in tradition
  • § 8. Basic ways of understanding ‘to be’ throughout the history of philosophy. Outline of the next part of the treatise
  • § 9. The point of departure of this reflection as an abstract one, and its insertion into the concrete historical context
  • Chapter 2. Being – beings, world, readiness to hand
  • § 1. ‘Being’ in Being and Time and in the later works of Heidegger
  • § 2. ‘Life’ and ‘world’ in Heidegger
  • a) ‘Life’ and ‘World’ in the course conducted in the Winter semester of 1921–1922
  • b) ‘Life’ and ‘world’ in Being and Time
  • c) ‘Life’ and ‘world’ in ‘On the Essence of Ground’
  • d) Critique
  • e) ‘Sein’ and the whole
  • § 3. The analysis of readiness to hand in Heidegger’s Being and Time
  • a) Presentation
  • b) Critique
  • § 4. The ontological difference
  • a) Presentation
  • b) Critique
  • § 5. Poiesis, praxis, theory
  • § 6. Ontological foundations of economics
  • Section Three. ‘To be’ and ‘to happen (hayah)’
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. Fundamental ontology and theology in Heidegger
  • § 1. Heidegger’s position in Phenomenology and Theology
  • a) Critique of the fundamental ontological foundation of theology
  • b) Heidegger’s self-criticism in his correspondence with Elisabeth Blochmann
  • c) The aim of the following reflections
  • § 2. The controversy over an adequate translation of ‘hayah’
  • § 3. A question of enlightened Bible exegesis
  • a) Putting the question
  • b) Summary of texts by Reimarus
  • c) The editor’s ‘counter-arguments’
  • § 4. The uncovering of the meaning of the Biblical story. Paratactic and hypotactic textual structures
  • § 5. The religious tradition in crisis
  • § 6. Religion as a superseded stage in the positivism of Auguste Comte
  • Chapter 2. Approaches to a destruction of the history of Christian faith
  • Introduction
  • § 1. Approaches to a destruction in Heidegger
  • a) Greek thinking and Christian experience of life
  • b) The misinterpretation of Romans 1:19 f.
  • c) Experience of self and axiologising
  • d) Conflicting tendencies in Augustine’s concept of ‘frui’
  • § 2. Elements of destruction in Georg Misch
  • Part Three. Knowledge and History
  • Introduction
  • § 1. What is meant by ‘de-animation’?
  • a) In Heidegger’s course ‘The Idea of Philosophy and the Problem of Worldview’
  • b) In his course The Basic Problems of Phenomenology
  • c) In Being and Time (de-worlding)
  • Section One. Hermeneutics and pure discursivity in Georg Misch. Tendencies toward de-animation in Hegel’s logic
  • Chapter 1. Pure discursivity in Misch
  • § 1. Introduction to the problem with reference to certain sentences
  • a) Sentences from everyday life and from the human sciences
  • b) Sentences from the sphere of the exact
  • § 2. The temporality of exact determining speech
  • Chapter 2. Hegel’s conception of the logical in the light of the hermeneutic logic of Misch
  • Introduction
  • § 1. ‘Life’ and logic in Hegel’s speculative interpretation of the Prologue to the gospel of Saint John
  • § 2. Hegel’s logic as guiding thread for Misch’s critique of logical absolutism
  • § 3. System and pragmatic ground of understanding
  • § 4. The movement of the absolute idea
  • Section Two. Structures of the historical and structures of the transcendental grounding of scientific knowledge
  • Chapter 1. ‘History’ in Misch and in the methodological subsections of Heidegger’s Being and Time
  • § 1. ‘History’ in Misch’s course on logic
  • § 2. Heidegger’s concept of the phenomenon in Misch’s critique
  • § 3. Survey of the sections on method in Being and Time
  • § 4. The movements of thinking in the sections on method and the later outlines of a doctrine of being
  • a) The first step back
  • b) The second step back: on to the history of being
  • c) The third step back: beyond the history of philosophy; the withdrawal of the priority of theory and the return to historical language
  • d) On the historicity of the transcendentals
  • Chapter 2. On the question of temporality and historicality in Misch and Heidegger
  • § 1. ‘Connectedness’ according to Dilthey in Misch’s account
  • a) The first way through
  • b) The second way through
  • § 2. The question of temporality and historicity in Being and Time (section two, chapter 5)
  • a) Summary of § 72 and § 73 of Being and Time
  • b) Heidegger’s critique of the category of ‘connectedness’
  • Chapter 3. Dimensions of the transcendental
  • § 1. Retrospect and elucidation
  • a) The concept of the transcendental
  • b) Transcendental knowledge and Δοξα
  • c) The retreat of the projector behind what is projected
  • d) The unity of content and perceiving in transcendentals
  • e) The unity of perceiving and ‘to be’ as the origin of the prevailing logic
  • f) Transcendental concepts as foundation of unity and plurality
  • § 2. Projecting and projected
  • a) The foundations of mathematical science of nature according to Duhem
  • b) Two difficulties in Duhem’s theory
  • § 3. The movement of transcendental meanings
  • a) The problem of the meaning of ‘no longer’ in connection with transcendental meanings
  • b) Crisis and the finding of a new paradigm
  • c) What does it mean to say that a paradigm is past? And what meaning does what is past have for us?
  • d) The history of being as accomplishment
  • § 4. Unintentional movements of ‘to be’ in doxa. The experience of protodoxa
  • § 5. Constellations of transcendental meanings
  • Chapter 4. Ways of de-animation (de-worlding)
  • § 1. The aim of this chapter. Methodological preliminaries. Prospect and retrospect
  • a) Toward an elucidation of the question of the whole and the unwhole
  • b) Bedeutung and Sinn according to Misch. Representation
  • c) Critique
  • d) The distinction of object-language and metalanguage
  • e) De-animation and the problem of mathematicisation
  • f) Preview of the next two subsections
  • § 2. Nature as de-animated
  • a) Κοσμος in Plato and Aristotle
  • b) The modern concept of movement contrasted with that of ancient cosmology
  • c) The culturo-historical meaning of this change
  • § 3. Ways of de-animation in the science of culture
  • a) ‘Native’ ways of de-animation. The example of the genesis of money. Presentation and elucidation
  • b) Technological interpretation
  • c) Comments on ‘now’ as limit
  • § 4. The lessons of the preceding analyses. Their implications
  • Bibliography
  • I. Works cited by short title or other abbreviation
  • II. Works cited by full title
  • Index

Part One

Introduction to the hermeneutic logic of Georg Misch

← 15 | 16 → ← 16 | 17 →

Section One. Hermeneutic logic in Misch’s ‘The Construction of logic based on the philosophy of life’.1

Chapter 1. The extension ‘from within itself’ of the concept of traditional logic


It would be a big mistake to underrate traditional logic. It is a richly developed science distinguished by the fact that in it reason has to do only with itself. It gives form and articulation to the ether of pure thought. It provides us with something firm that we can hold on to: ‘Objects are something so to speak graspable, something that remains stable when reflected upon, always re-identifiable and open to repeated contemplation, analysis and description.’2 It is a mark of Western culture.

But once we are confronted by the theory of forms offered by traditional logic we can no longer adhere to it. In the first part of his Aufbau course Misch reports what has been said across many centuries by those who have expressed doubts ← 17 | 18 → about the meaning and value of traditional logic.3 In so doing he takes the Aristotelian foundation of Western logic as his point of departure.

§ 1.    The connection between logical form and knowledge of essence according to Aristotle and its subsequent abandonment

Aristotle writes in the Prior Analytics: ‘Apodeixis is a syllogism, but not every syllogism is an apodeixis’.4 Accordingly his investigation of the syllogism in the Prior Analytics is designed in such a way that the three ‘concepts’ of syllogism are taken quite formally. In the Posterior Analytics he brings out the connection between syllogism and the knowledge of essence. The first of the syllogistic figures is scientific in the highest degree: ‘only through these can knowledge of the what-is be embraced’.5

This connection between logic and knowledge argued for by Aristotle will already be abandoned by his pupils.6 Abandoned with it is the glimpse into the belonging together of the main divisions of philosophy: logic, physics and ethics. The splitting off of logic from the other parts goes hand in hand with the cultivation of close attention to particulars. On the other hand emphasis is placed upon the clear compartments suited to being recited in a catechism. In the words of Misch, logic is reduced to logical absolutism (Logismus). The matter will be looked into more closely below (p. 281 ff.).

The code of rules thus produced can be easily learned. It is said that the Port Royal Logic owes its origin to a debate as to whether the basics and essentials of logic may be mastered in a few days. ‘This discussion was the occasion for someone present who held this science in no high regard to respond laughingly that ← 18 | 19 → if Mr So-and-so wanted to take the trouble, one could undertake to teach him in four or five days everything that was of any use in logic.’7

Concerning this Misch explains: ‘We want to maintain the original purpose of the tie between logic and ontology’ (III, 75). In so doing ον, ‘being,’ must be replaced by ‘life’ and ontology by philosophy of life.’8

§ 2.    Traditional logic and logistic

Misch also touches upon the criticism directed against the traditional logic from the direction of mathematics. Thus Leibniz greatly admired the logic of Aristotle and the Scholastics. ‘In my view the form of the syllogism is one of the most beautiful inventions of the human spirit and as such one that most deserves to be treasured. It is a kind of mathesis universalis....’9 However, his high estimation of the syllogism did not prevent his considering incomplete the form in which it was handed down. ‘The logic of syllogism is really demonstrable, just like arithmetic or geometry.’10 This means nothing other than that Leibniz is keen to turn syllogistic into a calculus. Misch does not dispute the legitimacy of the path that Leibniz laid down and that after him developed into a highroad. But he cannot help wondering whether the methodological approach to logic hasn’t given rise to a problem that merits consideration. Only rarely does Misch refer to mathematical logic. In one passage of the Aufbau lectures he couples it with the traditional logic and contrasts both with the ‘logic of life’ (p. 52). On the other hand he raises the objection that as soon as λογος is restricted to λογος αποφαντικος, ‘the meaning and ground of the idea of truth’ is prejudged (p. 57). The ‘hermeneutic resources’ (Die ‘hermeneutischen Bestände’) would be ‘dependent upon contact with the trembling objects the word stands for’. Only thus would they be discernible.11 ← 19 | 20 → Misch describes as a crude misunderstanding the claim that the opposition to ‘purely discursive’ terms would mean ‘the end of a scientific attitude of mind’. It is rather a matter of a distinctive logical form whose scientific staying power merits being put to the test. Precisely this logical form that will give expression to the things themselves rather than talking about them, will be philosophically fruitful if it makes possible for us both the sharpening of attention necessary for cognitio rei in contrast with the limitation to cognitio circa rem entailed by the theory of knowledge, and assists us to secure concepts of essence that, because they draw lines in the flux, are capable of maintaining themselves in motion.’12

Misch’s contention that the power of the word should set in vibration what is touched by it was very probably inspired by Hegel. Perhaps Misch recognised in the following passage of the Phenomenology of Spirit the best statement of what he himself was wanting to say: ‘For this consciousness has been fearful, not of this or that particular thing or just at odd moments, but its whole being has been seized by dread; for it has experienced the fear of death, the absolute Lord. In that experience it has been quite unmanned, has trembled in every fibre of its being, and everything solid and stable has been shaken to its foundations.’13 As against this, mathematical logic does not aim to put things themselves into words. It pursues the ideal of taking the words simply as signs whose meaning remains to be defined, and of placing the emphasis of inquiry into logical foundations upon ascertaining the possible interrelations of these signs’ (Aufbau, p. 489). ← 20 | 21 →

§ 3.    The Relevance of Goethe to Misch’s Hermeneutic Logic

Logic is the target of Goethe’s sarcasm in the ‘Collegium logicum’ of Faust. We get the flavour of this from the following citation:

                  Wer will was Lebendigs erkennen und beschreiben,

                  Sucht erst den Geist heraus zu treiben,

                  Dann hat er die Theile in seiner Hand,

                  Fehlt leider! Nur das geistige Band.14

The source of Goethe’s criticism was an experience of nature that endeavoured precisely to discover the spiritual tie encompassing it. This is why Goethe’s experience of nature had acquired exemplary importance for Dilthey and Misch.

In chapter 8 of his Aufbau Misch interprets Goethe’s ballad ‘The Fisherman’15 as an example of evocative speech. Misch stresses that Goethe expresses the living essence of, for instance, water. He aims to capture the natural attitude of knowledge to things. Goethe himself makes clear that he wants to express in the poem the feel of water, the attractiveness, what in summer makes us want to bathe in it (see Aufbau, pp. 513 f.). Misch reminds us that here ‘attractive’ does not mean ‘enchanting’ or ‘bewitching’, but ‘appealing’ (ansprechend). The verb ‘to attract’ (anmuten) appears to be favoured by Wieland as a replacement for the foreign ‘to interest’ (interessieren), and it is introduced into the written language by him and Goethe. On this Dilthey remarks that Goethe saw nature ‘as the realisation of a living power and significance inhabiting it that appeared in an original connectedness with it.’ Something rich in meaning works within it and lives its life to the full.16

For such a concept of nature the contrast between living spirit and dead matter is inadequate. In his quest to incorporate the organic within the concept of life Dilthey finds an ally in Goethe. What Goethe’s science of nature aims to do is construe ‘humankind in terms of the entire fabric of nature’ (see LPh, p. 106); ‘...it holds also for our highest ideas that “the positing conditions of corporeal organisation across the entire world is what explains why pure ideality can never arise, and that also in the human mind, if one seeks the eternal there, it is to be granted that the most high is singular”’ (Vorbericht, p. XCVII). ← 21 | 22 →

Misch takes up this Goethean principle in a discussion with Dilthey.17 He agrees with Dilthey that life must be the starting point for philosophy because it is ‘something known from within’ behind which one cannot go. But how can life be grasped as a whole, a whole furthermore that has reality? Life in the biographical sense in which it is taken by Dilthey is again only a part of life in general. Life extends over the entire scope of objective spirit.18 Dilthey himself draws attention not solely to the origin of this concept in the philosophy of Hegel, but also to the fact that with its entry into the context of philosophy of life it has changed. According to Hegel communities are built on the foundation of the general rational will. If we loose this concept from the ideal construction, it may take on a new meaning. Thus it can range over art, religion and philosophy, and point back to the realm of the organic.19

The question remains as to how this relation is to be thought. Dilthey declines to assimilate human life to the purely organic. This route, he maintains, leads to the setting up of vague analogies. If Comte asserts that ‘First of all the world, then man, such is the positive progress of our intelligence’,20 Dilthey retorts ‘formerly one sought to understand the world in terms of life. The only route is from the interpretation of life to the world. And there is life (Leben) only where there is experience (Erleben), understanding and historical comprehension. We don’t transfer meaning from the world to life. We do not exclude the possibility that sense and meaning first arise with human beings and their history.’21 With the words ‘first arise’ Dilthey would have us recognise that the background character of life is not ruled out but ruled in. Otherwise, how could Goethe’s proposal to construe human beings in terms of the materials of nature still serve as a model?

The connections Dilthey here touches on are also of greatest relevance for the sciences. The theoretical conception of the world, he holds, proceeds to insular abstraction from the raw state of life as from a context from which it cannot be sundered, notwithstanding that we entertain the idea of a split between the physical and psychological. We ourselves belong to nature, and nature produces in us, unconsciously, its obscure stirrings.22 According to Dilthey to sever the human ← 22 | 23 → from the organic and still more radically from inorganic nature is ‘to chop the earth as a whole into parts’.23 The ‘lower’ becomes the topic of sciences that fall under the sway of the concept of causality, while the ‘higher’ by contrast is something that is explored in the human sciences under the guidance of the category of effective nexus (Wirkungszusammenhang). This distinction corresponds to that between existentials and categories in Being and Time.

With this the original unity appears to be irreparably destroyed. But in reality the advancement of the theory of science is overtaken by the intervention of the philosophy of life. This reaches behind the fissions resulting from the development of the sciences. It locates the distinction between the ‘lower’ and the ‘higher’ aspects within human life itself. Thereby, under Goethe’s patronage of hermeneutic logic, a dimension emerges that is missing from the traditional conceptions of logic. Hermeneutic logic situates both in the space of a single scheme in that it regards them both as expression. The consequence of this is that models based on a theory of levels are altogether superseded.

The question raised here is not only one of theoretical relevance. It is appropriate to ask what praxis is implied when truth is understood in this manner. By praxis is meant here a mode of behaviour that takes its cue from theoretical knowledge. It is of first importance for the whole of philosophy how the one side and the other are conceived. A therapy will take on a different character according as to whether it understands the human being as an intellectual being to whom in some utterly unexplained way an aggregate of reflex mechanisms belongs, or whether it follows the orientation of Goethe’s doctrine in the proximity of which Dilthey and Misch have proceeded.

§ 4.    John Stuart Mill’s opposition to the prevailing logic

An objection to the prevailing logic is also forthcoming from the direction of the empiricists, for instance John Stuart Mill. Misch reports in the Vorbericht that Dilthey had been attracted toward empiricism ‘because something can get started with it’.24 Dilthey and Misch and also Heidegger were far from being dogmatically against empiricism.25 Dilthey had coined the word Geisteswissenschaften under ← 23 | 24 → Mill’s influence. He first translates ‘moral sciences’26 sometimes as Kulturwissenschaften, sometimes, thinking of Comte, as moralisch-politische Wissenschaften.27 As reason for the failure of ‘our National Philosophy’ in general against the empiricism from overseas he singles out adherence to ‘Logismus’, logical absolutism (Vorbericht, p. LXI).

According to Mill the moral sciences find themselves in a lamentable state. Their retardedness in comparison with the natural sciences could be put right only if the appropriately widened and generalised methods of physical science were applied to themselves.28 He regarded formal logic as only a very subordinate part of the logic of truth. Induction must be used. It is what has enabled the natural sciences to flourish. Thus would the logic of the natural sciences become significant not only for these sciences themselves, but also for ‘business and life’.29

Like Misch later and the ‘Göttingen logic’, Mill too envisaged a reform of logic. There is no doubt that the ‘Göttingen logicians’ will strike out on a path far removed from that followed by Mill.

§ 5.    The need for a dismantling of logical absolutism

How should the logician respond to the manifold criticisms so loudly voiced against his science? An impartial reconstruction founded on the achievements of reason would be possible only if confidence in the unshakable power of reason were to remain unquestionably firm into the future. Plato expresses his confidence when for instance in the Phaedo he recalls the teaching of Anaxagoras that reason is the principle of order and the cause of all things,30 and when he says in the Philebus that all wise persons agree that reason is the king of heaven and earth.31 In one form or another this conviction persisted until Kant. According to him logical forms are something permanent because they are grounded in ← 24 | 25 → the understanding. The understanding thus guarantees the primacy of logic in philosophy.

What path is left open in face of this manifest crisis? Only that of ‘a logic expanded from within itself’, one that leads to a ‘theory of knowledge’32 that embraces ‘metaphysics’ and ‘worldview’ (‘Weltanschauung’).33 What Misch understands by this last is demonstrated most clearly in his critique of Husserl’s work Formal and Transcendental Logic. Misch repeatedly displays his respect for the important achievement of Husserl in the field of logic. However, he maintains, Husserl did not proceed further in the direction which his Logical Investigations had shown to be the most promising. He did not apply the method he had developed to the urgent business of dismantling the inherited inventory of forms drawn up by logical absolutism. Had he done this, the things themselves would have led him beyond the purely discursive stratum of the conditions of cognition back ‘to the lineage of a genetic connection with statements made in the course of daily life’.34

Already in this first chapter it is becoming plain that what concerns Misch is more than a theory of knowledge. His inquiry will undertake rather a renewal of western culture.

Chapter 2. The question of the systematic position of logic35


Misch begins by attempting to cast light on the question of the systematic position of logic itself. This may be most easily comprehended if we ask about the essence of the concept. According to the doctrine of Scholastic logic the concept is an element of the judgement only where it occupies its position in the ‘twinship’ of subject-place and predicate-place. The judgement is articulated correspondingly into subject and predicate (υποκειμενον-κατηγορουμενον) (Aufbau, p. 54). For Misch this raises the question whether these two distinctions, (subject-predicate, υποκειμενον--κατηγορουμενον) can be put simply on the same level. On this matter Hans Lipps has pointed out that with the translation of υποκειμενον and κατηγορουμενον as ‘subject’ and ‘predicate’ the ‘disfiguring displacement’ of the ← 25 | 26 → Aristotelian project gets underway.36 What he means by this is made clear by Johannes Lohmann’s suggestion that the conception of the judgement familiar to us is not of Aristotelian but of Roman origin. ‘And instead of the subject-predicate schema that is taken to be the basis of all later logic, ontology, metaphysics and epistemology, what we find in Aristotle is the σχηματα της κατηγοριας, the modes or figures of the (actual or possible) assertedness (κατηγορεισθαι) in which precisely this “form” of the “category”... and not the relation of both termini is viewed...’.37 Lohmann’s thesis is supported by Kurt Ebbinghaus when he says: ‘Aristotelian logic is concerned with the relation of concepts – and not “judgments” of some sort or other’.38

Not only in Scholastic logic was thinking equated with judging. Kant defines the understanding as a faculty of judement.39 Dilthey too held this doctrine. He identifies the judgement as the fundamental form of discursive thought and cites Aristotle as a witness. Only in relation to the judgement, he maintains, can we speak of the ‘true’ or the ‘false’.40 As against the judgement, the syllogism is not an independent form of knowledge.41

In this way a firm determination of the place of the logical was obtained. But for this a high price had to be payed, namely, the restriction of the logical to a determinate sphere of knowledge: the judgement. The judgement is distinguished as that which connects something referred to in the subject-place with the predicate. This relation is absolutely transparent to the understanding.

Along with this also the idea of truth maintains a stable position. Its position is in the judgement. Aristotle can be invoked in support of this thesis.42 ← 26 | 27 →

Misch asks whether it is the case therefore that the possibility of being true or false is first given with the judgement. Or does it reach much further back, that is to say, is it not given with the human faculty of speech in general? Does the truth of the true expression not manifest itself through its power to bring what appears to us into full view? Misch emphasises that it belongs to the essence of speech that there lies in it as such the possibility of being either true or false (Aufbau, p. 56). Let us follow the clue Misch has here given us.

§ 1.    Speech as Spielraum for ‘right’, ‘true’, ‘good’ and ‘evil’

Misch maintains that it is unacceptable to tie the possibility of being true or false exclusively to the logically elemental form of the judgement. The possibility of being either true or false, he contends, is an ‘innermost (essential) possibility, a possibility of human freedom, a possibility for the one or the other....’ The truth of pure theoretical knowledge presupposes the truth of life (Aufbau, p. 56). If we now ask how we behave in the comings and goings of our daily lives, it is advisable to make our distinctions a little more precise, as Misch does in the text under consideration. Hans Lipps is of assistance in this respect.43 Lipps reminds us that Aristotle excludes advice, the prayer and the question from logic on the grounds that they cannot be ‘true’. A question can however be ‘good’ or ‘right’ because it gives rise to further questions. Here no such thing as ‘adequacy’ can be sought. In contrast to the fleetingness of everyday speech, what is true or false is fixed. In this way the relevance of what witnesses say is taken into account. Here it is fitting to speak of an adaequatio rei ac intellectus insofar as one testimony is more to the point than another.44 Lipps, Misch and Heidegger are in close agreement on this question. ‘The proposition’ – in the sense it has in the theory of judgement of traditional logic – ‘is not the first “locus” of truth. On the contrary, whether as a mode in which uncoveredness is appropriated or as a way of being-in-the world, assertion is grounded in Dasein’s discoveredness (Entdecktheit) or, rather, in its disclosedness (Erschlossenheit).’45

We must understand the proposition still more broadly, namely also and especially as the expression of freedom for good and evil. (The problem of the category ‘good’ will be further analysed below). It follows immediately that the Aristotelian ← 27 | 28 → proposal regarding the declarative proposition does not call for recourse to human freedom. For the Greeks ‘the idea of human freedom in the full, dangerous, essential [Protestant]46 sense did not arise...’ (Aufbau, p. 116). For the ancient pre-Christian outlook freedom entailed only the possibility of its being defined by reason.

It should at least be mentioned at this point that Misch’s hegelianising interpretation of freedom as a Protestant principle is contradicted from the direction of theology.47 Another question now presents itself. According to a time-honoured conviction only those capable of determining themselves by reason are free. The Greeks experienced what freedom is through the human soul’s gazing up at the starry sky in its immutable order. For confirmation of this Misch appeals to a multitude of sources, for instance the dialogues of Plato.48 It must be asked then what Christianity has put in its place.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2016 (August)
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2016. 378 pp.

Biographical notes

Friedrich Hogemann (Author)

Friedrich Hogemann studied at the Academy of Music at Detmold. He pursued courses in Philosophy, Roman Studies, Psychology and Latin Studies at the universities of Münster, Paris, Freiburg im Breisgau and Cologne where he graduated with a dissertation on the phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. He joined the Hegel Archives at the Ruhr University Bochum where he also held a lectureship.


Title: Dimensions of the Logical