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Logic machines and diagrams

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-Y038-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 24, 2019, from

Article Summary

By ‘logical diagrams’ we generally mean any two-dimensional representations of logical relationships, such as of class inclusion or consequence. One usually also means representations using non-typographical symbols or geometric figures. Such diagrams were first used in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but gained wide currency only in the nineteenth; the best known are the Euler and Venn diagrams. It is an open question whether logical diagrams are useful only as elementary pedagogical devices, or have implications for advanced logical research.

The conception of an organism, the mind, or of the universe as ‘machine’ was not really attractive and useful until machines were widespread, complex and able to perform interesting tasks. This occurred first in the late Renaissance, and initiated ways of thinking that dominated the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It was also becoming evident that machines could be used to perform some complex, repetitive or difficult tasks more reliably or faster than human beings.

The very idea of machines that can perform ‘symbolic’ tasks, such as mathematical, logical or, eventually, linguistic ones required first a symbolism. For this reason, the idea of computers for mathematical or logical tasks, and systems of mathematical and logical notation, are strongly intertwined: one must have efficient ways of feeding information into a machine, and interpreting the results.

Citing this article:
Dipert, Randall R.. Logic machines and diagrams, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-Y038-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2019 Routledge.

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