You are on page 1of 15

Critique on Booles symbolic logic

Critique on Booles symbolic logic .





www.mpantes .gr

The symbolic logic of Boole is a mathematical formalism of

classical logic. The concepts and propositions of classical logic became
abstract symbols of the logical universe, it is the application of algebra to
logic, as the application of algebra in problems of arithmetic. But what is

The classic logic, the basic elements of classic logic, the concepts,
the proposition , the reasoning,
The Booles symbolic logic,
The new algebra of Boole
The great result
The critique
The logic of propositions

The classical logic

to discover the truths is the task of all sciences; it falls to logic to
discern the laws of truthI assign to logic the task of discovering the laws

Critique on Booles symbolic logic

of truth , not of assertion or thought. The word truth denotes the object
of logic as the "beauty" the aesthetic object, or "good," the object of moral
Gottlob Frege (1848-1935), the thought: a logical inquiry
Logical truth is one of the most fundamental concepts in logic,
and there are different theories on its nature. A logical
truth is a statement which is true and remains true
under all reinterpretations of its components other
than its logical constants. All of philosophical logic can
be thought of as providing accounts of the nature of







The concept of logic is contained in the classical definition of
reasoning from Aristotle: "reasoning is a logical and phrasal complex
where just put some proposals (the premises) that ensue with logical
necessity another proposal, different from the first." What is this logical
Logic is the name of a discipline which analyses the meaning of
the concepts common to all the sciences, and establishes the general laws
governing the concepts .Alfred Tarski
So there is a discipline , namely rules and principles and

we go

there, where the Greeks started. Logic examines the products of thinking
and is trying to recognize and distinguish between genuine and spurious,
the correct from incorrect ( Papanoutsos ). Logic does not describe the
way in which the thought is manifested, but specifies the principles and
rules of right thinking. But beware: the Logic is interested in checking the
formal truth of sayings. The substantial truth check sciences (natural and
historical ). Logic, then, is a bureaucracy of reason, a language for
describing the steps of human thought on solid knowledge.
logic has so far nothing to do with the truth of the fact , opinions
or presumptions, from which an inference is derived; but simply takes
care that the inference shall certainly be true if the premises are true
whether the premises are true or false is not a question of logic
Augustus de Morgan

Formal logic

Critique on Booles symbolic logic

Example: ( Papanoutsos ) when x concludes that "freedom is a

priceless good ' logician

will ignore the human x, and consider the

thoughts of themselves to determine whether they are true or not, ie

whether the reasoning leading to the conclusion that freedom is a
priceless good, is logically correct. Unlike the psychologist will look to
explain how x arrived at these thoughts what is the intention, in what he
aims etc.
Conclusion: With these few quotes, we understand that: in the
universe of thought, first the Greeks managed to put an inner order and
discipline, a set of rules and principles that, a truth , that is s o m e t h I n




a g r e e is transported , creating other

strict truths ( logical necessity of Aristotle, Socrates is mortal ), thus

creating a system of thought , logical thinking, the reasoning, an order in
the chaos of all thoughts, the system which led to the conquest of science.
In this sense the logical thinking can be recognized only by the principles
of logic and without additional information .

The basic elements of classical logic .

To understand the symbolic logic we should recall the content of
classical logic, this is indeed that Boole described with mathematical
The great and first laws of rational thought expressed by Aristotle ,
who mentions as " studied the principles of reasoning used by
mathematicians , and of these by abstraction, he derived laws that are
applicable to any proper reasoning ." These laws neither accept nor need
a proof. Willy-nilly we hold them without their knowledge . From here
stems therefore the inability of foundation of mathematics on Logic since l
ogIc is not

f o u n d e d a n y w h e r e..

The key elements of logic are concepts , propositions and

reasonings .

Critique on Booles symbolic logic

1. The concepts
in classical logic are given in words and represent a number of
similar objects, eg theater , misconduct , square etc.
But the meaning of words (the content of concepts ) shows
shadings and variations and sometimes go too far from the original
meaning. Incomprehension and misunderstandings arise when different
concepts expressed by the same word ( eg, mass , function, authority,
performance, etc. ) The determination of the meaning of words - concepts
clearly and precisely, it is the first care of every science before being used
in the descriptions and analyzes.

2.The propositions are the basic cell of speech. As are concepts

for thinking, are the propositions for the explicit expression ( Papanoutsos
) The proposition is a statement and for the Logic statements are
opinions, underlying the distinction between truth and falsehood . Later in
logikistes will talk about truth value of a proposition.
Propositions are
Mercury is a metal
The law is not disrupted
It is not certain that inhabited Mars
If day there is natural light
The ship ( at the time ) approaches Chios or Mytilene and later in symbolic
logic represented by the letters x, a, b, c q, r ...
The concepts in these propositions are mercury , metal, class ,
day , light , ship .
Types of propositions .
these are categorical , hypothetical disjunctive and
conjunctive propositions. An examination of the logic truth of
proposition of any type is the key issue of logic ( classical or modern ) and
is developed in every book of Logic ." We will look it, only in the light of
Mathematical Logic in a next article "the propositional calculus "

Critique on Booles symbolic logic









categorical propositions . Aristotle dedicated most of his logical writings,

in these and their combinations . These relate to the type ' A is B ' or ' A is
not B " Eg " Mercury is a metal "or" the solution to this problem is not
wrong "
Hypothetical propositions are of the type "if a ( or not a) then b ( b
or not ) eg ' if two triangles have corresponding sides have equal then the
corresponding angles equal " or " if it is night there is not natural light "
The disjunctive propositions are complex propositions associated
with links ( or- or , either - or, neither - nor ). They expressed as equally
possible two different opinions without revealing which of the two accept .
For example, " I will go Athens or Paris
The conjunctive propositions are complex propositions that the two
members are connected with " and ." eg X is a police officer and lives in
3.The reasonig .
The most complete of logical structures is the argument . It is a series of
interrelated propositions formed to make clear ( to "prove" ) the truth of a
statement. The method by which the mind devises an argument, is called
reasoning ( Papanoutsos ) . the leading propositions are called premises
and the final is the conclusion. Eg (the classical)
All men are mortal
Socrates is a man so
Socrates is mortal.
Reasoning are valid or invalid but the propositions are true or false.

The Booles symbolic logic

Critique on Booles symbolic logic

Boole transformed this language of logic in a algebraic calculus

as dictated by symbolic algebra had begun to grow. (Peacock).
.... The purpose of the following treatise is to investigate the fundamental laws of
thought by which reasoning is performed, to express with the symbolic language
of a calculus, and on this basis to install the science of logic and construct its
methods .... Boole, An investigation of laws of thoughts

Boole in his Mathematical Analysis of Logic, inspired by Peacocks

principle of the permanence of equivalent forms" made the logical step
that the body of algebra is not necessarily the numbers, and the laws of
algebra are not necessarily the laws of real and complex numbers, and
finally d e v e l o p e d

n e w

a l g e b r a, which except the

representation of logic (

Boole could not imagine) made possible the

digital electronic and digital computing (computers). Boole wants to do an

algebra of logic. But logic has no numbers. But the symbolic algebra has
been released from the numbers. Let's imagine it as a structure analogous
for example with group theory.
Symbolic logic (and mathematical logic) is a formalism of logic, and
basic characteristics of each formalism is the generalization through
subtraction (D 'Abro).
Let's think of the oldest mathematical formalism: this of algebra. A
myriad problems of practical arithmetic are treated with the formalism of
equations of algebra . The transition consists in the construction of the
equation and then we have the problem of solving the equation. We forget
the interpretation of symbols, profit, age , mass, speed etc and discuss
symbols, solving method, discriminant, Vieta formulas

etc. the original

problem is absent, we discus about abstract things and different, but they
face a myriad of real world problems.
Logic similarly has a myriad of problems: finding the truth or falsity
of propositions and arguments generated by a myriad of classes. If we
name a class with x ....?
In Booles algebra we transfer the logic on

formalism, the

formalism (as bureaucracy) becomes autonomous, always acquires its own

momentum, is finally a branch of mathematics ....

Critique on Booles symbolic logic

But we need to understand its role. The classical logic with the
known fundamental laws is the basis and the formalism follows.
We do not produce the

fundamental laws of logic from formalism, as

Boole imagined, but conversely, the formalism is the copy, because the
mathematics we use in formalism, already contain them (the fundamental
laws ).

The new algebra of Boole .

In the mathematical Analysis of Logic Boole offers a logic based
on mathematics, chiefly algebra. The term algebra refers to a typical
system , rather than a model ( ie the structure that brings us to the
mathematical reality) . For example, we say the algebra of integral
domains and the structure of integers which satisfy the algebra. Today we
describe a formal system with algebraic method of axioms. Especially for
algebra Boole, there are a variety of axioms . Choose one that focuses on
proportions with numerical algebra. ( Boole as a symbolist believed that
if that interpretations of symbols were chancing we would come to the
operations of numbers ). For Booles algebra, we use the letters a, b, c ...
two binary operations + and . a single operational symbol
(supplement) , and two fixed symbols 0 and 1.
Axioms for the algebra of Boole .
1. ab = ba

a+b = b+a

2 . ( a b) c = a (b. c)

(a+b) + c = a+(b+c)

3. 1 . a = a

0+a = a

4. a.a = 0

a + a = 1

5. a ( b + c) = a.b+a.c
6 a = a .a

a + (b.c) = (a + b) (a + c)

a+ a = a

The analogy with the numerical algebra is enhanced by inserting a minus

sign a-b = a.b
Then from ( 3 ) we have
7. 1 -a =1. a = a
8. with (4) is

a(1- a) = 0

a+(1-a) = 1

Critique on Booles symbolic logic

The most known model of Booles algebra (except the algebra of

classes) is the set of subsets of a fixed set with operations the union,
intersection and complement respectively for

+ . and

The empty set

and the identity set I , are respectively 0 and 1. Even the commutative
ring ( with a suitable interpretation of the operations ) in abstract algebra.

The algebra of classes (the symbolc logic).

The symbols
Boole describes his system

in the an investigation of laws of

thoughts 1854 as
All the operations of language, an instrument of reasoning, may be
conducted by a system of symbols composed of the following elements
1.literal symbols as x,y,z.representing things as subjects of our
perceptions (the classes)
2. Symbols of operations, as +,- . standing for those operations of
the mind by which the conceptions of things are combined or resolved so
as to form new conceptions involving the elements
3.the sign of identity =
These symbols of logic are

subject to determine laws, partly

agreeing with and partly differing from the laws of the corresponding
symbols in the science of Algebra.. Boole

Critique on Booles symbolic logic

The 0 and 1 will be interpreted as classes and not as numbers: 0 is

the class in which it belongs nothing (Nothing) and 1 as the class that
contains all objects (the universe) of the debate.

The operations .
Thus if x alone stands for white things

and y for sheep, the

logical multiplication x . y stands for white sheep and in like manner if z

stands for horned things and x, y retain their previous interpretations ,
let x.y.z represent horned white things.
It is evident that according to the above combinations we have the
first general law
x.y=y.x (1) also x(yz)=(xy)z
If the two symbols have the same signification, their combination
expresses no more than either of the symbols taken alone would do. In
such case we should therefore have x.y=x or x.x=x
Now in common Algebra the combination x.x is more briefly
represented by x2. Let us adopt the same principle of notation here;
Because the mode of expressing a particular succession of mental
operations, is a thing in itself quite as arbitrary as the mode of expressing
a single idea or operation. In accordance with this notation, then the
above equation assumes the form
x2=x , (2) (law of dichotomy).(Boole)
The logical addition + stand for and and or and both. They
are applied to concepts whose classes are completely distinct,
we have x+y=y+x (3)

an equation which would equally hold true

if x and y represented numbers

and +

was the sign of arithmetical

addition. If x are men and y voters then x+y represent men and

Critique on Booles symbolic logic


voters(where excluded the women voters). Yet Boole justified the

distributivity law
z.(x+y)=z.x+z.y ,(4)
by letting x represents men

y represents women and z

represent Europian.
In section 11, Boole introduces another operation represented by
(logical substraction) this operation we express in common language by
the sign except as all men except Asiatics, all states except those
which are monarchical. Here it is implied that the things excepted form a
part of the things from

which they are excepted. If x be taken to

represent men and y Asiatics the conception all men except Asiatics wiil
be expressed by x-y or x-x.y
Now the expression 1-x represents the supplemental class of
objects that is all the objects that do not exist in class x.
Proves, the equivalences with algebra of numbers
x + y = z y = z-x (prop.II13)
also x = y z.x = z.y (prop.II 14) but not vice versa, and it seems
easily the distributive law for subtraction.
That is let x men y Asiatics z white men
To apply the adjective "white" in class "all people except Asians' is
the same to say white people except white Asians this is x(y-z)=x.y-x.z

In section 15 he describes the existence of the numbers 0 and 1 in

his work:
We have seen that the symbols of Logic are subject to the special
law x2=x.

Critique on Booles symbolic logic


Now of the symbols of number there are but two , viz. 0 and 1
which are subject to the same formal law. The equation x 2=x considered
as algebraic, has no other roots than 0 and 1. Hence , instead of
determining the measure of formal agreement of the symbols of logic with
those of number generally, it is more immediately

suggested to us to

compare them with symbols of quantity admitting only the values 0 and .
Let us conceive then an algebra in which the symbols

x,y admit

indifferently of the values 0 and 1, and of these values alone. The laws the
axioms and the processes of such an algebra will be

identical in their

whole extent with the laws, the axioms and the processes of an algebra of
Logic. Difference of interpretation will alone divide them..
Then he explains that the respective interpretations of 0 and 1 in
the system of logic are Nothing and Universe. Even proves in logical
interpretation of the symbols 0 and 1, the numerical laws 0.x=0 and 1.x
We shall prove the mathematical

validity of a valid reasoning of

All horses are mammals.
All mammals are vertebrate.
Thus all horses are vertebrates.
Let x class "horses" y class "mammals" and z the "vertebrates"
Will translate into equations this reasoning.
When we say that all horses are mammals is meant there is no horse that
is not a mammal, that
x (1-y) = 0 x-xy = 0 x = xy ...... (1) similarly
y (1-z) = 0 y-yz = 0 y = yz ..... (2)
therefore x = xy = x (yz) = (xy) z = xz .... (3)
from (3) x = xz

x. (1-z) = 0 that is the conclusion.

Critique on Booles symbolic logic


The great result .

The sole solutions of x2 =x x.(1-x)=0

are x = 1 and 0, where 1 is

the Universe, and 0 is the Nothing.

That as a consequence of the fundamental law of thought x 2 = x is
impossible for any being to possess a quality and at the same time not to
posses it: if the case is "truth " and " not true " there is no intermediate
value , there is only true and not true and this is the principle of
exclusion of the third or of middle (from

two contradictory

propositions true is always one). Still it could be read that x can not be not
(what is x while is not x is Nothing ( 0 ) , and this is the principle of
contradiction ( a concept can not be inconsistent with itself ) .
Boole notes that what has been commonly regarded as a
fundamental axiom of metaphysics is but a consequence of a law of
thought, mathematical in its form.

Critique .
Bool proves

the principle of contradiction from the law of

dichotomy. But he interprets them in reverse. Indeed the principle

of contradiction is a great axiom of metaphysics ! What is this law of
thought? It is an assumption ad hoc. The law of dichotomy is limited in
x2=x which is always true But the equation x3=x is always true too. Why


apply to the system? Because he plans the principle of

The equation x(1-x ) = 0 has two solutions which


axiomatically defined as global contradictory meanings , or x = 0 or x = 1.

But this is the principle of contradiction. Why is there nothing else but
Nothing and the Universe? He could set something third and consider the

Critique on Booles symbolic logic

equation x3=x.


the equation x(1-x)=0 is based on the principle of

Still Boole to ensure dichotomy as a limit of human perception ,
builds a trichotomy:
x = y = z (identical sets);
xyz = x; then,

x3 = x ;

This factors into

x (1 x)(1+x) = 0;
The solutions are 0, 1, and 1. He illustrates as If x = all men, and
(1 x) = everything that is not all men, then what does (1 + x)
represent? Boole points out that this is surely beyond the comprehension
of human minds. So trichotomies are outside the realm of rational thought,
at least in this universe, and for human faculties.
what really does (1 + x) represent?








axiomatically not be represented, and that because it is limited by the

principle of contradiction, and not vice versa. There would be (in axiomatic
base ) and something else except 0 and 1, but there in nothing to add !
The axiomatic bases does not fall from the sky, they are processes a
posteriori, made to describe what doctrine we want. The principle of
contradiction is behind the calculus of Boole, and not vice versa.
Boole is trying to get laws to the intangible , the spiritual , but the
science of Logic is like seismology, follows and records the results of an
activity which we can not penetrate in any way. Mind can not study itself.

The logic of propositions .

Boole except classes concepts, also introduced what we call logic
of propositions, but we will not follow . In this interpretation, the symbol p
is the proposition eg " mercury is metal" and claim p mean that the
statement is true. ( ... Aristotle) .

Critique on Booles symbolic logic


Then the - p means that it is not true that " Mercury is metal ."
Similarly the - (-p) means that it is not true that " mercury is not metal" so
the mercury is metal.
The law of excluded middle for propositions, which affirms that any
proposition is either true or false, was exppressed by Boole as
p + (-p) = 1 where 1 represents true.
The product p. q means that both propositions p and q are true
while p + q means either p or q or both are true..
Booles symbolic logic played a prominent role in the evolution of
Mathematical Logic. As from the axioms of Euclid we arrived at the
formalism of Hilbert, so from Boole we came to the logicism of Russell, a
philosophical attempt of interpretation and foundations of mathematics.

George Mpantes

mpantes on scrbd

I have read :
A Boole anthology ;

James Gasser,

Origins of Boolean algebra in the Logic of classes: Janet Heine

Barnett ()
The loss of certainty :Morris Kline Oxfod University Press
Foundations and fundamental concepts of mathematics Howard
Eves Dover

Critique on Booles symbolic logic