Logic-Philosophical Studies 14:98-122 (2016)

Jens Lemanski
Fernuniversität Hagen
From the beginning of the 16th century to the end of the 18th century, there were not less than ten philosophers who focused extensively on Venn’s ostensible analytical diagrams, as noted by modern historians of logic (Venn, Gardner, Baron, Coumet et al.). But what was the reason for early modern philosophers to use logic or analytical diagrams? Among modern historians of logic one can find two theses which are closely connected to each other: M. Gardner states that since the Middle Ages certain logic diagrams were used just in order to teach “dull-witted students”. Therefore, logic diagrams were just a means to an end. According to P. Bernhard, the appreciation of logic diagrams had not started prior to the 1960s, therefore the fact that logic diagrams become an end the point of research arose very late. The paper will focus on the question whether logic resp. analytical diagrams were just means in the history of (early) modern logic or not. In contrast to Gardner, I will argue that logic diagrams were not only used as a tool for “dull-witted students”, but rather as a tool used by didactic reformers in early modern logic. In predating Bernhard’s thesis, I will argue that in the 1820s logic diagrams had already become a value in themselves in Arthur Schopenhauer’s lectures on logic, especially in proof theory.
Keywords logic diagrams  Euler diagrams  foundations of logic
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