Frege’s View of the World

by Mark English

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Gottlob Frege was a mathematician with strong philosophical interests and preoccupations. In an attempt to discover and make explicit the logical foundations of mathematics he developed — almost singlehandedly — the basic ideas of the predicate calculus. But he also had deep and compelling views on language and an appreciation of the complexities of ordinary thinking, including the role that feelings and emotions play in human life and decision-making.

3 thoughts on “Frege’s View of the World

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  1. I haven’t read much Frege, but, as presented here, it appears he is struggling (right along with much of western philosophy) with what I would consider imprecise terminology regarding the human mind reflecting an intellectual bias in philosophic thought. I would correct that terminology thus;

    – Human reason is the overarching human mental capacity to register meaning (= order) in existence and provide the wisdom (knowledge + good judgment) to choose beneficial real-world actions. (Frege – “organic judgments” with “serious practical impact”).
    – Reason is not equated with rationality or thinking but rather requires both thinking and feeling to be effective (practical).
    – Intellect involves thought, thinking, and rationality. It is knowledge-seeking of objective reductionist mechanistic knowledge.
    – Emotion involves sense, feeling, and intuition. It is knowledge-seeking of relational holistic economic (value-based) knowledge

    Intellect and emotion access meaning and truth in different domains of knowing that are largely complementary and thus tend to conflict. Both are necessary. Reason and wisdom require the emergent human mental capacity to make self-regulating mental choices that not only manage both the intellectual sphere and the emotional sphere separately but in particular manage the tense conflicted interaction between the two. This is the highest and most evolved human capacity.

    1. jofrclark

      You distinguish between reason (broad) and rationality (narrow).

      “Intellect involves thought, thinking, and rationality. It is knowledge-seeking of objective reductionist mechanistic knowledge… Emotion involves sense, feeling, and intuition. It is knowledge-seeking of relational holistic economic (value-based) knowledge.”

      I agree that real-life decision-making is and needs to be holistic in the way you suggest. But trying to encapsulate this kind of thinking (necessarily involving normative judgments) in an academic discipline seems to me to be a mistake.

  2. I agree that acadamia, as currently formulated, can’t encapsulate the more holistic way. I myself believe this is because it has become hyper-intellectualized and linguistically bound. The idea that feelings can represent normative judgements in ways different than thinking hasn’t enjoyed much formal acadmeic support, much less consideration of how feelings and thinking work together emergently to found our or overall judgments.

    This is where I’m kinda with Dan’s verve. It is the domains of story telling and aesthetics that more provide considerations in the hositic way and are needed to balance and complete the constrained academic side of things.

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