Polylogism

  • The Objectivist

    Polylogism is the doctrine that there is not one correct logic, one correct method of reasoning necessarily binding on all men, but that there are many logics, each valid for some men and invalid for the others. The polylogist divides men into groups, and holds that each group has by nature (or creates for itself by choice) its own distinctive method of inference based on its own distinctive logical laws, so that the inferences that are entirely logical for one group are entirely illogical for the others . . .

    On the polylogist view, there is no common or universal logic to serve as the objective standard and arbiter when men disagree. There is no way for members of opposing groups, with opposing views, to resolve their disputes; it is useless to appeal to facts or to evidence for this purpose, since the minds which engage in the process of reasoning obey different rules of thinking.

    In the Nazi version of polylogism, . . . there is Aryan logic, British logic, Jewish logic, etc., and these give rise respectively to Aryan truth, British truth, Jewish truth, etc . . . . The movement that first launched the doctrine of polylogism in a culturally influential form [is] Marxism. Aware of the fact that communism cannot be defended by reason, the Marxists proceeded to turn the fallacy of ad hominem into a formal philosophic doctrine, claiming that logic varies with men’s economic class, and that objections to communist doctrine may be dismissed as expressions of “bourgeois logic.” Thus, vilification of an opponent replaces analysis of his argument . . . . Kant [is] the real father of polylogism, the first among the major philosophers officially to sever logic from reality . . . In terms of fundamentals, Nazi polylogism, like Nazi subjectivism, is simply a pluralizing and racializing of the Kantian view.

    Actually, polylogism is not a theory of logic — it is a denial of logic. The polylogist invests “logic” with the character of a mystic revelation, and turns logic into its antithesis: instead of being the means of validating objectively men’s claims to knowledge, logic becomes a subjective device to be used to “justify” anything anyone wishes.