Formal, Transcendental, and Dialectical Thinking

Logic and Reality

By Errol E. Harris

Subjects: Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy
Paperback : 9780887064302, 289 pages, July 1987
Hardcover : 9780887064296, 289 pages, July 1987

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


Introduction: Contemporary Problems

Is Logic Relevant?
The Predicament of Modern Man
Science as Objective Knowledge
Bankruptcy of "the Scientific Outlook"
The Whirligig of Time

Part I Formal Logic

Chapter 1 The Presuppositions of Formal Logic

Logic and Metaphysics
Frege's Grundlagen der Arithmatik
The Thesis of this Chapter
Commutation, Association and Distribution

Chapter 2 Formal Logic and Scientific Method

Empiricism and Induction
Physics and "the Interrelatedness of Things"
The Methodology of Science

Part II Transcendental Logic

Chapter 3 Kant and Fichte

Synthesis and Transcendental Subjectivity
The Emergence of Dialectic

Chapter 4 Husserl's Transcendental Logic

Psychologism vs. Formalism
Inadequacies of Formal Logic
The Task of Transcendental Logic
Undeveloped Implications

Chapter 5 Dialectical Transcendentalism

A Reformulation of Transcendental Philosophy
Dialectical Parallel

Chapter 6 Transcendental Idealism

The Problem of Self-constitution
Merits and Demerits of Transcendentalism

Chapter 7 "Independent" and "Nonindependent" Objects

Wholes and Parts
Unresolved Problems

Part III Dialectic

Chapter 8 The Logic of System

Relations, External and Internal
Overlap of Terms
Organization and System
The Self-differentiation of System
Summary and Exemplification

Chapter 9 Negation and the Laws of Thought

Identity and Difference
Dialectic and the Law of Contradiction
Criticisms and Misconceptions

Chapter 10 Categories of Perception

The Form of the Facts
Being and Becoming
Quantity, Number, and Formal Logic

Chapter 11 Categories of Reflection

Common Sense
Common Sense and Newtonian Science
Contemporary Science

Chapter 12 Categories of Systematic Thinking

The Concept, Theoretical and Objective
Conceptual Moments
Scientific Judgement
Scientific Inference


(1) Deduction
(2) Induction


Scientific Advance

Chapter 13 Objectivity

Three World Views
Relation of Subjective to Objective
Theory and Practice
Identity of Subjectivity and Objectivity

Chapter 14 Value

Dialectical Generation of Value
Desire, Purpose, and Objective Standards
Dialectic and World Problems
Man and Nature
Residual Questions


(1) The freedom and individuality of man
(2) The ultimate character of the universal whole
(3) Man's relation to universal nature



This is a critical examination of the three types of logic advocated by current philosophical schools. Harris shows that certain basic presuppositions underlying the techniques of symbolic logic have resulted in intellectual stultification, moral dilemma, and practical sterility. These presuppositions are shown to be at variance with those of contemporary scientific method. Critical consideration is given to alternatives, and a more appropriate logic of science is proposed, providing an escape from crippling relativism and promising objective validation of value judgments. This approach offers some prospect of solutions to the major problems now troubling our civilization.

Errol E. Harris is John Evans Professor Emeritus at Northwestern University.


"Harris has written two or three really distinguished, perhaps great, books up to now; this is his best." — James M. Edie

"Like Hegel's, Harris' reading is evolutionary, though Harris has the advantage, and takes it, of the latest science." — Robert Cummings Neville