Evan Jack
17 min readFeb 5, 2022

Being without a supposition, why is this desirable for philosophers? Obviously, arguing that one supposes suppositions are bad is a logical inference and, therefore, the movement the arguer is doing here supposes logic. But, do we have to justify our supposition of logic? And, if so, in what manner?

First, I’d say that logic is one of the potential starting points for philosophy. The other starting point is one of illogic. But, do these latter two conclusions not suppose logic? They do, so, it seems we have regulated ourselves to logic. From the perspective of logic, I do believe we can see that there are only two starting points in that from the illogical perspective all other perspectives are entailed because contradiction is not ruled out. So, why logic instead of illogic? Does this not reveal the unwarranted normativity of logic? Obviously, one cannot logically dispute the normativity of logic in that they are adopting that norm which they are trying to dispute, which is not to say that they are in a practical contradiction (though they are). Rather, what I’m saying is that the issue of valuing logic over is illogic is raised through logic. Illogic cannot value itself exclusively as a framework, because logic is entailed in illogic as illogic cares not for the contradiction between itself and logic. Therefore, the real problem of normativity within logic is only a potential issue from the perspective of logic, for illogic can simultaneously accept and reject logic as a norm. Ethics has to do with picking between alternatives: we ought to do this instead of that. Therefore, if there is no alternative to logic, its normativity isn’t actually an issue. So, how could we even assert that logic has no alternative? Could the person of illogician not posit that one ought to value illogic over logic. How would the logician respond to the illogician here? If the logician responds, “Why illogic over logic?” would the illogician not just respond with anything in that they don’t care for valid inferences? In this sense, we are at an impasse: both illogic and logic can dispute the normativity of one another, but illogic cannot logically respond to the question logic poses to it, therefore meaning the logician will point out some circularity, infinite, regression, etc. that is a part of the illogician’s argument, but this will mean nothing to the illogician. So, to be clear, the impasse is this: the answer to the question each poses for one another is an answer that only means something to the one who posits it. The illogician cares not for logic, and the logician cares not for illogic. See, with truth, things were so so much easier in that one could demonstrate the circularity of the will to truth itself, and therefore one could reject it through logic. But, one cannot reject logic through logic, only through illogic can they reject logic; and one cannot reject illogic through illogic, only through logic can they reject illogic. This is the impasse. How do we get across it?

But, before we even try to get past this impasse, let’s identify its two presuppositions: 1. “One cannot reject logic through logic” and 2. “one cannot reject illogic through illogic.” Are these two the case? For the second one, it is the case because illogic is the breakdown of all rules for thought, there is nothing it could violate. As for the first one? Enter Sheffer:

The key thing which pure general logic helps us deal with is the logocentric predicament:

Just as the proof of certain theories in metaphysics is made difficult, if not hopeless, because of the « egocentric » predicament, so the attempt to formulate the foundations of logic is rendered arduous by a corresponding « logocentric » predicament. In order to give an account of logic, we must presuppose and employ logic. (Sheffer 227–228)

Now, one must realize that the positing of the logocentric predicament Sheffer has done here supposes that presupposition makes the status of something’s justification in the air and that justification is what we ought to value. Now, the second issue of justification is only an issue if the movement that is presupposition makes a proposition’s justificatory status undetermined. In other words, one does not have to worry about justification, if one doesn’t have to worry about justifying presuppositions, for one could presuppose something is the case and then say it is the case. So, the supposition of logic doesn’t necessarily make it unjustified, right? Again, what I have just said is a series of logical conclusions, so I’m already supposing logic, and we return to the very first paragraph of this paper. Do we have to justify the supposition that suppositions make something undetermined? If it were not the case the presupposition of something did not leave its justificatory status ambiguous until the presupposition was proven to be true or untrue, then the question couldn’t be posed in the first place in that the presupposition of the idea that presuppositions leave things undetermined would not be problematic. In other words, in order for someone to argue that presupposition is “bad,” they must presuppose that there is an issue with putting forth the argument that presupposition is “bad,” therefore meaning they take issue with presupposition. If they take the position of the person who believes presuppositions are unjustified then they could point out how this position is self-defeating in that it presupposes presupposition is “bad,” which would be “bad.” Again, this is a logical conclusion, so logic is being supposed here, but is that an issue? I would argue yes in that one’s methodology (logic) would come into contradiction with one’s claim (presuppositions are justified, because to dispute that would suppose presuppositions are unjustified) in that logic cannot have a proposition which allows for all propositions to be contradictory (this is the minimal principle of non-contradiction which is entailed by logic), and the idea that presuppositions are automatically justified would allow someone to be justified in presupposing that all propositions are unjustified. Therefore, the posed reductio proves our point in that one would could say, “You presuppose that contradiction is bad in all cases,” and the other could say “No, I don’t, you do.” That presuppositions are instantaneously justified is not something that can be the case in that one can only demonstrate the negative, that one presupposes presuppositions are bad would therefore be bad, which does not entail the truth of the positive. That presuppositions are not unjustified, does not mean they are justified. Logic itself entails that presuppositions are unjustified in that every presupposition could allow for all propositions to be contradictory in that one could say that any presupposition presupposes all propositions to be contradictory, and no one could say he this presupposition is unjustified. Now, could we not just stipulate the prohibition of this one presupposition? We could, but still, there is the direct presupposition of all propositions being contradictory. So, we would have to prohibit that presupposition too. Could you not say, though, that the assertion of prohibiting those presuppositions that point out all propositions are contradictory itself presupposes that all propositions are contradictory? You could, so then we would have to prohibit the proposition that the prohibition itself supposes all propositions are contradictory. Are we in the clear now? Hardly, for we have prohibited a proposition about a past prohibition, and would, after another points out this prohibition entails all propositions being contradictory. But, would this proposition not already be prohibited? No. We would have to make another prohibition: all presuppositions that entail all propositions being contradictory are to be prohibited. Okay, so, now, we are finally in the clear. But wait. What are those presuppositions that entail all propositions being contradictory? It could possibly be all presuppositions. Therefore, because every presupposition could entail the conclusion that all propositions are contradictory, every presupposition actually does entail the conclusion. Therefore, the prohibition of every presupposition is logically necessary. This leads us back to the logocentric predicament. Logic itself necessitates all presuppositions to be prohibited, therefore when one raises the logocentric predicament through logic one assumes this too, which is why logic’s presupposition of itself is problematic in the first place. Wait, is what I just said not a non-sequitur? This conflation of could and does, is this not fallacious? I’m here to argue it isn’t in that it is not that all presuppositions could entail the conclusion that all propositions are contradictory, rather, when presuppositions do not have to be justified, anything follows, anything can be posited, and this is a direct violation of the principle of minimal non-contradiction. [Note: personally I do actually think what I said was a non-sequitur, though, I do believe the way to get out of this is to realize that a presupposition is just an unsaid, supposed-to-be-“true” premise of those premises and conclusions one is explicitly putting forward, therefore because logic is about justified inferences, one must have those necessary conditions (= presuppositions) of the inference to be justified as well. Now, one could say in response to this, “Are you not supposing that presuppositions need to be justified,” but this objection cannot be made for there is a logical necessity that presuppositions need to be justified by either itself (internally) or something external to it that can confer to it justification. Why is there a logical necessity? Simple: logic is logically necessary for logic (duh). Therefore, if something causes logic to go away or breakdown then it is, due to the logical necessity of logic being the case, necessarily wrong. So, not having to warrant presuppositions allows for any proposition to be put forward and be automatically warranted which is problematic because the necessary relation of consequence that logic is would then be gone: for example, if I said that x follows from y, and you asked me why, and I said because I presuppose it to be like that, then logic as the necessary relation of consequence has been done away with. Furthermore, the lack of necessary justification of presuppositions causes the position that presuppositions don’t need to be warranted to defeat itself in that one could presuppose that presuppositions require justification and then the opposition would say “But you presuppose that presupposition,” this our response would be “Yes, we do, which is why it is justified per your standard!” And so, they will have to shut their mouths. But, if one thinks my solution here is on shaky grounds let me provide an alternative. One presupposes that presuppositions need to be justified for them to be the case. What does it mean to be justified? Something is justified if it is the case.[1] See what is happening here. Ha!]

Are we not, though, in our prohibition of presuppositions supposing that justification is good and unjustification is bad? Enter Nietzsche: why care for that which is justified over that which is unjustified? Wouldn’t this presupposition be unjustified therefore defeating itself? No, because there is no presupposition. Truth and justification vs. untruth and unjustification return back to the issue of logic vs. illogic. Logic vs. illogic is a prior question to the questions of truth vs. untruth and justification vs. unjustification. Logic entails truth being better than untruth simply because truth means what logically is the case and logic is the standard. Justification is just justifying something is logical. So, if we can prove that logic is the case (solve the logocentric predicament) and then solve this issue of normativity between logic and illogic, then Nietzsche’s question will be answered. But, if we are trying to prove that logic is justified which is to say logical, wouldn’t this just be tantamount to saying logic is logical? Yes, which is precisely the point. The logocentric predicament only points out that logic is viciously circular and infinitely regressive and therefore informally illogical. But, would this not just be a tautology? Logic is logical… doesn’t tell us very much now does it? Logic is certainly logical, that is what the solution to the logocentric predicament establishes, but what is logical is much more expansive than the sentence “Logic is logical,” because there is a difference between logic and its use. Logic’s use is the process of making valid inferences. But, for logic to be used, logic must be established. What we must realize is that the solution to the logocentric predicament will assert that logic is logical which is to say logic is of itself which is to say logic is by its very nature or logic is on its own which is to say logic is(?), therefore what is established by the solution to the logocentric predicament is the law of identity: logic is, which is to say, logic is itself. From the law of identity, the other laws of logic can be derived, no? The edifice of logic would therefore be saved. [Personally, I myself am skeptical of my series of inferences that leads to my conclusion that what is entailed in the solution to the logocentric predicament is the law of identity, but I digress. Do not forget though that the solution to the logocentric predicament is the establishment of logic and its use].]

Could one not ask us, “Why ought I do that which is good? Why not rather do that which is bad?” All we have to do is point out that one ought to do what they ought to do. But, let us return to the matter at hand. What is logical has already been determined by logic and so through our discovery of what is logical, we would not be justifying it is logical, for logic has already justified such. Instead, we would be engaging in post facto explanation.

Nevertheless, solving the logocentric predicament, i.e., demonstrating that logic isn’t viciously circular and infinitely regressive, which is to say, demonstrating that logic is logical, would then return us back to the question of logic vs. illogic. So, supposing that the logocentric predicament has been solved, we must explain why logic is to be valued over illogic. My first response, I made in an older paper, said this:

Logic though seems to answer the problem of alternatives in the sense that its alternative, illogic, doesn’t mean anything nor nothing, it isn’t, nor does it have to be dealt with. That there is an issue with valuing logic over illogic, or that a moral ontology is behind logic that is supposed simply means nothing. The moral ontology only appears when truth is separated from logic. That truth and logic are separate seems arduous. Nevertheless, regarding the problem of alternatives, logic has no alternative in that illogic is only its alternative if we suppose logic. That alternatives are is a logical conclusion deduced from syntactico-semantic composition. That untruth is the opposite or alternative to truth is a logical conclusion. The binaries or pluralities deduced are just that deduced, deduced logically. That truth and untruth are competitive methods is something inferred but specifically inferred logically. Thus, if truth and logic are not separated, then in the very positing of the question “Why not rather untruth?” Nietzsche answers himself, and we can then say to him, “Why not rather untruth Mr. Nietzsche?”

That contradiction is the opposite of non-contradiction is certainly a logical conclusion, but the conclusion can be made by the illogician, but then the illogician would be making a logical conclusion. Remember illogic still entails logic because it cares not for internal contradiction (because that is what it is). Therefore, one can only contest logic’s normativity from inside from logic, for the conclusion that we suppose logic’s normativity is a logical conclusion in that even though the illogician can make the conclusion the framework of logic recuperates it (the illogician, for just a moment, becomes a logician). It does not matter what the premises are for the illogician. It could be:

P1: siusabdiklansDJifasnkl

P2: iafukdshjopklknfdspxz

C1: Therefore, one can only contest logic’s normativity through the use of logic.

How can the illogician dictate what “siusabdiklansDJifasnkl” and “iafukdshjopklknfdspxz” mean? Does being illogical not preclude semantic intent? Neither of these questions is necessarily relevant. What we must realize now is that we have undone our conclusion and have made a new one: the illogician is making an illogical conclusion, therefore the conclusion, from the perspective of illogic, is, surprise surprise, illogical. So, how do we deal with this? Where are we to go now? We know that the basis of philosophy will rise from the solution to the logocentric predicament and we know that the expansion of philosophy from the basis will rise from the solution to logocentric predicament in that logic’s use will be established as justified (as logical). So, solving the logocentric predicament will establish philosophy. But that the conclusion that all of this is to be valued over philosophy’s negation, non-logical pluralism, can only come out of the solution to the problem of alternatives’ highest level, “why not rather illogic than logic?” Logicians, after the solving of the logocentric predicament, will be justified in their belief, and illogicians will not be, ultimately though, if there is not a solution to the problem of alternatives then it just comes down to preference: “Do you want to be justified in your belief or not?” In other words, it is once preference or not if they want “a hitherto unknown kind of madness” (Frege in The Basic Laws of Arithmetic xvi). Robert Hanna, in Rationality and Logic, follows Frege in this latter conclusion and says,

This [Frege’s claim about logical aliens being mad], I think, is essentially the right line of response. Taking the neo-Nietzschean hypothesis seriously, it would follow that both the social-psychological and individual psychological profiles of the logical nihilists would be pathological by any criterion of the meaningful use of the term ‘pathological’. Inconsistency and fallacy would be endemic, entrenched among them. Neither truth nor truthfulness would mean anything to them, or untruth or untruthfulness for that matter. They could not have beliefs, but instead only unreflective attitudes. They could not give reasons for anything, hence could not justify anything, hence would be without cognitive or practical norms of any kind. Without cognitive or practical norms, their emotional and volitional states would be without internal constraint or structure and utterly wanton, without any reasons for caring one way or the other about their direct or “first-order” desires or preferences. (229)

And, Hanna, assuming his logic faculty thesis to be true, then says,

In fact, the self-induced condition of the logical nihilist would be equivalent to removing or permanently disabling her logic faculty, which in turn would undermine her metaphysical and moral personhood. In this way, the logical nihilist would lack any constructive or epistemic access to the proto-logic, and so would be without a properly functioning capacity of rational cognition or thought, and also without a properly functioning capacity for normative self-reflection, and thus would become a postperson. Now, to be sure, there is nothing in itself wrong with being a protorational, nonrational, or subrational animal. All of us started out as protorational human animals, and it is a sobering thought that many of us will also involuntarily become nonrational or subrational human animals before this Big Parade is over. But there is something deeply incoherent, sad, and truly awful about a rational animal’s deliberately deciding — that is, rationally choosing — to become a nonrational or subrational animal. Indeed, it is the ultimate self-stultifying act. If someone we deeply respected were to suffer a catastrophic accident and be permanently reduced to the cognitive and emotional level of a happy human infant or cat, we would regard this as a great misfortune, even despite the newfound contentment. But if someone we deeply respected were to choose this fate, we would regard this not merely as a great misfortune but also as profoundly perverse and entirely tragic. So it is the logic-liberated people, not the logicians, who are in this sense “insane.” By endorsing the antilogical life, the postmodern or neo-Nietzschean logic skeptic intentionally commits cognitive and emotional suicide. One does not need to be a Kantian moralist to see that this is psychologically and morally self-destructive. (230)

Holy shit… That is the fate I’m going to fucking suffer if I don’t solve the logocentric predicament…

That it comes down to preference is the first thing we can conclude. Is there an alternative to this latter conclusion? I believe there is, yes. But what is it?


[1]: [P.S. this is where the actual alternative is provided: One could say, “Isn’t this just a vacuous tautology?” My answer would be that it isn’t in that we must ask what justification means further. Justify means to prove that something is the case. So, one could say that we are supposing that things need to be justified to be the case. Is this true? I guess so. But, just because presupsitions don’t have to be proven to be the case to actually be the case does not mean that presuppositions are automatically the case. Rather, we are in a state of neutrality. Let me express this differently: Let p be presupposition, let C be being the case,, let J be justified, let ∀ be for all, let □ be it is necessary that:

This is the original claim: (∀p (p = C(p)) □ (p = J(p))), which is to say, “for all presupositions to be the case it is necessary that the presupposition is justified.
This is the response: Let p be presupposition, let P be presupposes let C be being the case, let t be true, let = mean is or equal to, let J be justified, let ∀ be for/that all, let □ be it is necessary that, let → be therefore, let ~ be denies or negates, let ■ be even if, let ≠ be is not:

((((∀p (p = C(p)) □ (p = J(p))) = t) □ P(∀p (p = C(p)) □ (p = J(p)))) → ~(∀p (p = C(p)) □ (p = J(p))) → ∀p (p = C(p)) ■ (p ≠ J(p))), which is to say, “that the statement ‘all presuppositions to be the case necessarily must be justified’ is true necessarily presupposes that all presuppositions to be thecase necessarily must be justified, therefore, it denies itself, i.e., one doesn’t need to justify a presupposition for it to be the case, therefore, all presuppositions are the case even if it isn’t justified.

This is our response: Let p be presupposition, let P be presupposes let C be being the case, let t be true, let = mean is or equal to, let J be justified, let ∀ be for/that/of all, let □ be it is necessary that, let → be therefore, let ~ be denies or negates, let ■ be even if, let ≠ be is not, let ⊬ be it does not follow from, let ⊢ be it does follow from, let U be undetermined:

(⊬((~(∀p (p = C(p)) □ (p = J(p))) → (∀p (p = C(p)) ■ (p ≠ J(p))))),which is to say, “it does not follow from “all presuppositions don’t need to be justified to be the case” that therefore “all presuppositions are the case even if it isn’t justified.” And then, ((⊬((~(∀p (p = C(p)) □ (p = J(p))) → (∀p (p = C(p)) ■ (p ≠ J(p))))) = t) → ⊢(∀p U(p), which is to say, “it is true that it does not follow, therefore, it follows that the status of all presuppositions is undetermined.” The response put forth by those who believes that because one does not have to justify a presupposition for it to be case, therefore unjustified presuppositions are the case is nothing other than the fallacy of the inverse which takes the format of “If P, then Q. Therefore, if not P, then not Q” or in the context of this “If a presupposition is going to be the case it must be justified, therefore it is the case that unjustified presuppositions are not the case). Therefore, if it is not the case that for a presupposition to be the case it must justified, then it is not the case that unjustified presuppositions are not the case (which the oppose then infers from here, fallaciously, that they are therefore the case).” Furthermore, my point is that the status of a presuppositon in relation to it being the case is undetermined because even if presuppositions do not have to be justified to be the case, that does not mean they are the case because they are unjustified, rather, there is just ambiguity (indetermination). So, how do we escape this ambiguity? Well, for something to be the case, it must be logical, therefore, if one can justify that it is logical, then it is the case. Therefore, the charge that we suppose that presuppositions need to be justified to be the case is not true, rather we suppose nothing because our claim is that for presuppositions to be the case they must be logical, therefore if one can demonstrate (justify) that the presupposition is logical, then it is the case. The only charge they can no make against us is, “But you suppose that logic is logical!!” In response to this we can say two things: 1. we suppose logic is logical which means that 2. we suppose that the logocentric predicament has been solved; therefore, if the logocentric predicament is solved then we are correct that for something to be the case it must be logical, for logic will be logical and logic will be the standard for truth and justification and therefore justified according to logic. Now, you may say this is circular, but it is not vicious circularity in that it logic will be the standard for all things if we can solve this issue of logic’s normativity. Therefore, to establish this quasi-Principle of Sufficient Reason we must do two things 1. Solve the logocentric predicament and then demonstrate how 2. Logic is the universal standard in that there is no alternative to it, or, even if there is an alternative to it, it is still has normative primacy over its alternative.]



Evan Jack

How sweet terror is, not a single line, or a ray of morning sunlight fails to contain the sweetness of anguish. - Georges Bataille