I’ve recently been thinking a lot about the difference between concepts and logic. What follows is merely a note I’ve written on this distinction. I plan on writing a far more detailed blog post on this in the future, but I’m currently writing my first book and do not have enough time to really do this topic any justice. This note will have to suffice for the moment.
Many people who get interested in philosophy have a tendency to esteem logic above all other perspectives on the world. The justification for this is that logic ultimately grounds all other outlooks, e.g., science, ontology, ethics, epistemology and, yes, even religion. The belief is that none of these perspectives would make any sense at all without having a logical consistency within themselves. Now, I’m certainly not about to launch into a diatribe against logic itself. I’m all for people learning about logic and being able to use logical principles to analyze assertions and arguments. My issue is with placing logical analysis at the top of the list of philosophical activities. But why do I feel this way?
I hold to the position that claims that the most important thing philosophy does is create concepts. And I am not alone in this view. This is precisely the argument Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari make in What is Philosophy? D&G answer that very question by saying, “philosophy is the art of forming, inventing, and fabricating concepts . . . philosophy is not a simple art of forming, inventing, or fabricating concepts, because concepts are not necessarily forms, discoveries, or products. More rigorously, philosophy is the discipline that involves creating concepts” (What Is Philosophy?, pp. 2, 5). This is a truly profound insight into the nature of philosophy. What all great philosophers or great thinkers have done is produce new concepts that enable us to see the world in radically new ways. From Thales all the way up to Alain Badiou, philosophers have created new concepts that open up perspectives and horizons that were previously unthinkable and foreclosed.
Logic is not productive of new concepts, but, rather, is limited to the analysis arguments. This is why we never feel like we’ve gained much from watching debate bros wield logical principles at each other on YouTube, whereas coming to understand the concepts of Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, Freud, Spinoza, Marx, McLuhan, Arendt, Husserl, Levinas, Heidegger, Whitehead, Butler, Lacan, Derrida, Deleuze, Baudrillard, Badiou, Žižek, etc., can change your life forever. Again, I’m not attacking logic, but I am saying that I think it is of the utmost importance for those of us who are students of philosophy to be aware of philosophy’s true greatness: the creation of concepts. The world is in a very problematic state and I don’t think logical analysis will be enough to solve all of the crises and antagonisms we are facing. I, instead, think we have to create new concepts that bring forth new visions, new values and new worlds. The future does not lie in being able to tell another person when they are committing the logical fallacy of begging the question. To think the future is to think a new concept. Long live the creation of new concepts! Long live philosophy!